Russian Federation hosts meeting on Afghanistan

Sergey Lavrov said the meeting is meant to seek paths to national reconciliation in Afghanistan

Sergey Lavrov said the meeting is meant to seek paths to national reconciliation in Afghanistan

After facing enormous criticism from various political quarters for participating in the "Moscow format meeting" on Afghanistan, which will also be attended by a Taliban delegation, official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, Raveesh Kumar, on Friday clarified that "India always wanted Afghan-led peace process". Reportedly, the Moscow-format meet on Afghan conflict is not going to be attended by the Afghan Foreign Ministry, however, Afghan High Peace Council - which talks to the Taliban on the process of reconciliation is expected to be there, reported The Indian Express. "Given how keen Kabul is to launch a peace process, amid a strengthening insurgency and intensifying violence, it recognizes that any meeting about a peace process with Taliban participation is worth attending". As per the outline of the New Development Plan finalised in September 2017, India would take up hundreds of development projects to the tune of $1 billion to help rebuild the country. Its representatives won't meet directly with the Taliban officials, he said.

One official said: "The US basically does not consider China a key party in the Afghanistan issue".

"We are aware that the Russian Federation is hosting a meeting in Moscow on November 9 on Afghanistan", said External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.

On Tuesday, the Taliban also confirmed it would send a delegation to the meeting.

Economic Times reported that India is likely to be represented by the head of MEA-run Indian Council for World Affairs, TCA Raghavan and Amar Sinha, a former Indian envoy to Kabul - both former diplomats are experts on the Afghan region and have been associated with the MEA.

Mr. Raghavan was High Commissioner to Islamabad (2013-2015) and is now the Director General of the government-run Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) think-tank based in Delhi. The Taliban have said they are ready to talk to the end the war, but not with the Afghan government they deem illegitimate. According to sources, India has participated in the multilateral meetings on Afghanistan in the past, aimed at providing security and stability in the conflict-torn country.

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The first such meeting, proposed for 4 September of this year, was called off at the last moment after the Afghan government pulled out, describing its involvement in the Moscow meeting as "unnecessary" as the Taliban had "disrespected internationally-sanctioned principles and rejected the message of peace and direct negotiations".

"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".

Kumar added that India's policy on Afghanistan remains unchanged. Pakistan's foreign office has confirmed Islamabad's participation in the talks.

Nevertheless, VOA quotes the Trump administration as saying the USA will attend in coordination with Kabul.

On Thursday, Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, revealed that a five-man delegation would participate in the conference, stressing, "There will not be any sort of negotiations taking place with the delegation of Kabul administration".

A United States government watchdog last week said Kabul´s control of Afghanistan had slipped in recent months as local security forces suffered heavy casualties while making minimal or no progress against the Taliban.

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