In­dia to at­tend Moscow talks with Tal­iban at 'non-of­fi­cial' level

The Northlines - - BUSINESS - NEW DELHI, NOV 08

In a first, In­dia will be par­tic­i­pant in mul­ti­lat­eral talks with Afghan Tal­iban in the same room but at a 'non- of­fi­cial level'. Rus­sia will be host­ing dis­cus­sion on Afghanistan and steps to­wards po l it ica l rec­on­cil­i­a­tion in the war-torn coun­try in Moscow for­mat of talks for the sec­ond time this Fri­day.

The talks pre­vi­ously sched­uled in early Septem­ber were post­poned af­ter the Ashraf Ghani gov­ern­ment pulled out of it call­ing it 'un­nec­es­sary' in view of the Tal­iban's re­jec­tion of 'peace and di­rect ne­go­ti­a­tions'. The meet­ing will bring to­gether deputy for­eign min­is­ters and spe­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tives in an ef­fort to bro­ker peace from 12 coun­tries, in­clud­ing Iran, China, Pak­istan and US. "In­dia sup­ports all ef­forts at peace and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion in Afghanistan that will pre­serve unity and plu­ral­ity, and bring se­cu­rity, sta­bil­ity and pros­per­ity to the coun­try. In­dia's con­sis­tent pol­icy has been that such ef­forts should be Afghan-led, Afghan- owned, and Afghan-con­trolled and with par­tic­i­pa­tion of the Gov­ern­ment of Afghanistan," said Raveesh Ku­mar, MEA (Min­istry of Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs) spokesper­son.

In the first round of the Moscow for­mat though which did not in­clude the Afghan Tal­iban, In­dia was rep­re­sented by Joint Sec­re­tary Deepak Mit­tal. This time re­tired se­nior am­bas­sadors to Pak­istan and Afghanistan TCA Ragha­van and Amar Sinha will be on the ta­ble. "Our par­tic­i­pa­tion at the meet­ing will be at the nonof­fi­cial level," Raveesh Ku­mar added.

New Delhi which has been a part of Heart of Asia and other di­a­logue fo­rums on Afghanistan's fu­ture main­tains that it can be share ta­ble with Tal­iban only if the elected gov­ern­ment in Kabul is a will­ing par­tic­i­pant to it. "It is im­por­tant to be in the room as In­dia is in­vested heav­ily eco­nom­i­cally and diplo­mat­i­cally in Afghanistan and works closely with the gov­ern­ment in Kabul. It is the process that mat­ters," un­der­lined an In­dian of­fi­cial.

Wel­com­ing In­dia's de­ci­sion a Rus­sian Em­bassy of­fi­cial in Delhi said, "We highly value In­dia's sup­port in the peace process in Afghanistan." The Afghan gov­ern­ment has sent a four-mem­ber del­e­ga­tion of the High Peace Coun­cil (HPC) for the talks headed by vice chair Haji Din Mo­ham­mad. Mean­while, in de­par­ture from its pre­vi­ous stance of boy­cotting the for­mat in Septem­ber, US em­bassy in Moscow will send a rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the Fri­day meet­ing 'to ob­serve the dis­cus­sions', said a State De­part­ment of­fi­cial.

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