Tripartite meet on Afghanistan agrees to include Kabul, others

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Moscow, Dec 28 (IANS) Russia, China and Pakistan agreed to expand their tripartite consultations on the Afghan conflict and include other countries, including Afghanistan, after Kabul objected to its absence from the regional discussions.

“The parties agreed to proceed with consultations in an expanded format and would welcome the participation of Afghanistan,” a joint statement issued after a meeting of the senior officials of the three countries said here.

It was the third round of talks between the three countries on the “deteriorating situation in Afghanistan”, particularly the rise of the Islamic State.

The previous two rounds of the tripartite meetings were not publicly disclosed. The third meeting was announced by the participating states in an indication of their growing confidence in their cooperation driven by the fear of IS gaining a foothold in Afghanistan.

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The announcement of the talks, however, annoyed Kabul, which questioned the effectiveness of a process on Afghanistan without its representation.

A spokesman for the Afghan Foreign Ministry, Ahmad Shekib Mostaghni, while speaking to media in Kabul on Tuesday cautioned that no initiative relating to Afghanistan could succeed without its involvement.

“Even if such talks are organised with goodwill, (they) cannot yield any substantial results because no one from the Afghan side is there,” he said in diplomatically couched criticism of the trilateral meeting.

Meanwhile, Russia is also supporting Iran’s entry into the relatively new process. Tehran has been Moscow’s ally in the fight against IS in Syria. In a separate troika formed last week, Russia, Iran and Turkey reaffirmed “their determination to jointly fight the IS”.

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