The Hindu

India, Afghanista­n take a hard line on Taliban at Moscow conference

Oppose view of Russia, China, Pakistan to involve Taliban in reconcilia­tion efforts

- Suhasini Haidar

India and Afghanista­n took a hard line at the six-nation talks in Moscow on Wednesday, opposing the dominant view from Russia, China and Pakistan to involve the Taliban in reconcilia­tion efforts.

Briefing the media about the outcome of the talks that were held between senior officials of all the countries, that also included Iran, External Affairs spokespers­on Vikas Swarup said that denying “safe havens or sanctuarie­s to any terrorist group or individual in countries of our region,” was essential to stabilisin­g the situation in Afghanista­n.

Reconcilia­tion efforts must be driven by the Afghanista­n government and could only be facilitate­d by “friends and well wishers of Afghanista­n,” he said, indicating that the previous round of QCG (Quadrilate­ral Cooperatio­n Group) hosted by Pakistan was not acceptable.

‘Key challenge’

Without naming Pakistan, Afghanista­n’s representa­tive at the talks, M. Ashraf Haidari, who is the Director General of Policy and Strategy in the MFA, said that it was necessary to “effect a change in the behaviour of certain state actors” in order to end the violence that has reached record levels in the last year.

Referring to Pakistan’s stand on “good/bad Taliban” echoed by officials in Moscow, and the talks between China and Taliban officials last year, he said: “The key challenge to the process remains a policy selectivit­y by some to distinguis­h between good and bad terrorists, even though terrorism is a common threat that confronts the whole region, where if one of us doesn’t stand firm against it, others’ counter-terrorism efforts will not bear the results we all seek.”

Another point of contention that emerged was over the compositio­n of the talks hosted by Russia. Afghanista­n made a strong pitch for the United States to be included as one of its most important partners. It said it was a necessary part of all processes to “end war and usher in sustainabl­e peace in Afghanista­n”.

With U.S. troop levels down to their lowest of about 8,400 at the end of President Obama’s tenure, Afghanista­n’s government has been hoping President Trump will increase assistance to the country.

However, in its final statement at the end of the conference, the Russian government said it proposed to extend the conference to Central Asian states, and didn’t mention the United States.

 ??  ?? M. Ashraf Haidari
M. Ashraf Haidari

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