Taliban at talks table in Moscow: India says its role in line with its policy

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New Delhi, Nov 9 (IANS) India on Friday said its participation, albeit at a non-official level, at a meeting on peace process in Afghanistan in Moscow, where the Taliban are also in attendance, is in line with New Delhi’s policy towards the strife-torn South Asian nation.

“There are two-three things here,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said at a media briefing here. “One is that we fully support peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan,” Kumar said.

“(it is) to preserve unity and plurality, to bring security, peace and prosperity in the country.

“The third important priority, which we have been repeatedly emphasising, and which is India’s consistent policy, is that India will support any effort which is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled and also with the participation of the government of Afghanistan.”

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Stressing that India is doing nothing out of compulsion, Kumar said: “Whatever effort is made which we feel will continue the process, and which is consistent with our policy on Afghanistan, I think we will participate in that process”.

Amar Sinha, former Secretary in the External Affairs Ministry who also served as India’s Ambassador to Afghanistan, and T.C.A. Raghavan, former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, are representing New Delhi at the talks in Moscow on Friday.

This is the first time that India is sharing the talks table with the Afghan Taliban on issues of peace and stability in Afghanistan.

The Indian move comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to New Delhi last month for the annual bilateral summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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A joint statement issued following the summit said that both India and Russia supported the Afghan government’s efforts towards the realisation of an Afghan-led, and Afghan-owned national peace reconciliation process.

“Concerned with unabated violence, the (two) sides resolved to work through the Moscow Format, SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) Contact Group on Afghanistan, and all other recognised formats for an early resolution to the conflict in Afghanistan,” the statement said.

New Delhi and Moscow also resolved to launch joint development and capacity building projects in Afghanistan.

Russia sent invitations for what is called the Moscow Format talks to Afghanistan, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, the US and the Afghan Taliban.

–IANS

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