A five-member Taliban delegation led by Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai attended talks with several countries including India in Moscow as part of a regional initiative organised by Russia. However, India participated in the event 'unofficially' as it sent former diplomats to the meeting.
New Delhi sent former Indian envoys to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Amar Sinha and TCA Raghavan respectively, to attend the conference at the "non-official level". India's foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar had said on 8 October that "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." It is interesting to note that India has never before participated in a talk with the Taliban.
The last such meeting by Russia had to be called off at the eleventh hour because the Afghan government had refused to be present for it. Therefore this time around, Moscow had agreed to open the meeting to even non-government representatives.
However, since US and Indian officials mostly kept quiet during the discussions, Moscow asked the Indian government to play a more active role next time, The Times of India reported.
Meanwhile, after the meeting, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said, "Afghanistan's problems can only be settled politically, through the attainment of national accord and with the involvement of all parties to the conflict. We hope that responsible politicians will not be guided by personal or group considerations but by the interests of the people of Afghanistan," the report said.
On the other hand, the Afghan government, in a post-meeting statement said that the High Peace Council was participating "in its own capacity as a national but non-government institution". At the meeting, the Taliban representatives, led by Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai stuck to their demands that foreign troops should leave Afghanistan first.
Moscow said it had invited representatives from the United States as well as Iran, China, Pakistan and five former Soviet republics in Central Asia. The host nation said that no one should play “geopolitical games” in Afghanistan and that the participation of Taliban and Afghan High Peace Council representatives was aimed at creating conditions for direct talks, Al Jazeera reported.
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Updated Date: Nov 12, 2018 14:07:53 IST