Published: Fri, November 09, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

India to participate in Friday's Moscow talks with Taliban

India to participate in Friday's Moscow talks with Taliban

"India's consistent policy has been that such efforts should be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, and Afghan-controlled, and with the participation of the government of Afghanistan".

Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said the participation of both Afghan leaders and the Taliban was an "important contribution" aimed at creating "favourable conditions for the start of direct talks".

India ending speculations would participate at the non-official level for the Moscow format of talks in the Russian capital on Friday where representatives of the Taliban will be present.

The Ghani government said this week it is allowing the delegation of the High Peace Council (HPC) that is designated to further the reconciliation process with the Taliban on the understanding the Moscow format will lead to direct talks with the Taliban.

India joined talks with the Taliban for the first in a multilateral meeting on Friday on Russia's invitation for a peace call.

The Moscow-format meeting on Afghanistan will be held on November 9 and representatives of the Afghan Taliban radical movement will take part in it, the Russian Foreign Ministry had said last week.


This week the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said the Afghan government would not be sending a delegation to the summit but a High Peace Council (HPC) official said they would attend the meeting in an independent capacity.

Sources told The Hindu that India will send two retired diplomats, Amar Sinha and TCA Raghavan as its representatives.

The first round of the Moscow format was held on April 14 past year, when India was represented by Mittal, along with deputy foreign ministers and senior officials from Afghanistan, China, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Newly appointed USA peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has been trying to convince the Taliban to agree to negotiate an end to the war and there are fears the Russian meeting could derail those efforts. New Delhi has always maintained that it will engage with the elected government of Afghanistan, and participating in the meeting would have given legitimacy to the Taliban. After the Afghan government cancelled its participation, India too followed suit on the pretext that it would be untenable for New Delhi's representatives to share the table with a Taliban delegation - when Afghanistan's democratically-elected government would be staying away.

Originally the meeting was scheduled for September 4 in Moscow, but Afghanistan refused to attend citing that any such discussions should be Afghan-led.

One of the main issues that Nessar expects the Taliban to discuss with the Afghan government at the conference is the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the country, primarily American forces.

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