Monday, 10 December, 2018

Taliban join Moscow talks to kick start Afghanistan negotiations

Afghanistan peace conference kicks off in Moscow Taliban join Moscow talks to kick start Afghanistan negotiations
Jeannette Daniel | 09 November, 2018, 19:04

Kumar further said that India is just part of the meeting as it supports the reconciliation process.

India on Friday made it clear that its participation at a multi-lateral conference on Afghanistan in Moscow in a "non-official" capacity was in sync with its Afghanistan policy, asserting that it was not talking to the Taliban.

This time, the Afghan government hasn't sent its envoys, but members of the government-appointed Peace Council are attending the event.

"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 MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, adding that "our participation at the meeting will be at the non-official level".

India will not be holding talks with the Taliban, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) clarified in a press briefing on Friday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attend a signing ceremony following their meeting on the sidelines of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in Saint Petersburg on June 1, 2017.

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"Our participation at the meeting will be at the non-official level", the spokesperson informed putting to rest all speculations regarding India's presence at the meet where Taliban leaders will be present.

"We highly regard Indian support in the peace process in Afghanistan and welcome Indian readiness and that of other partner countries in the Moscow format", the Russian Embassy said in a statement on Thursday.

Russian Federation has reaffirmed its position that there is no alternative to a political settlement, the need for active coordinated work among the neighboring countries, and agreements with the regional partners of Afghanistan. This is a significant development, and a major departure, since New Delhi has not participated in a multilateral meeting involving Taliban in the past. "This will be assessed at the conference, we hope to convey good news to the people of Afghanistan about direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in the near future", said HPC spokesman Sayed Ehsan Tahiri.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, invitations to take part in the event had been sent to Afghanistan, India, Iran, China, Pakistan, the USA and some other countries. The Taliban will also be part of the meeting.

"On his last trip to the region in October, Special Representative Khalilzad called on the Afghan Government and the Taliban to organise authoritative negotiating teams, and has been encouraged to see that both parties are taking steps in that direction", the State Department said in a statement. But this time, it has managed to carefully balance Russian and U.S. interests, as it is sending the Afghan High Peace Council's representatives, instead of its foreign ministry representatives.

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