India to Join Talks With Taliban at Non-Official Level in Moscow

India on Thursday, 8 November, confirmed that it will attend, albeit at a non-official level, a multilateral meeting in Moscow on issues relating to Afghanistan on Friday, where the Afghan Taliban will also be present.

"“We are aware that the Russian Federation is hosting a meeting in Moscow on 9 November on Afghanistan.”" - Raveesh Kumar, Spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs“India Supports Afghan-Led Efforts for Peace”

"India supports all efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan that will preserve unity and plurality, and bring security, stability and prosperity to the country," Kumar said.

"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.”

"“Our participation at the meeting will be at the non-official level.”" - Raveesh Kumar

This will be the first time that India will be sharing the talks table with the Afghan Taliban on issues of peace and stability in Afghanistan, reported IANS.

Indian Representatives to Attend Meet

Amar Sinha, former secretary in the External Affairs Ministry, who also served as India's Ambassador to Afghanistan, and TCA Raghavan, former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, will represent New Delhi at the Moscow talks, IANS reported citing sources.

Raghavan is currently the director general of the Indian Council for World Affairs (ICWA) think-tank.

According to The Hindu, the talks will include a “high-level” delegation from the Taliban political leadership based in Doha as well as a delegation of Afghanistan’s “High Peace Council”, apart from twelve countries.

Also Read: Who Was Maulana Samiul Haq, the Slain ‘Father of Taliban’?

According to Sputnik news agency, Russia has sent invitations for the Moscow Format talks to Afghanistan, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, the US and the Afghan Taliban.

The Indian move comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to New Delhi last month for the annual bilateral summit with PM Modi.

A joint statement issued following the summit said that both India and Russia supported the Afghan government's efforts towards the realisation of an Afghan-led, and Afghan-owned national peace reconciliation process.

"Concerned with unabated violence, the (two) sides resolved to work through the Moscow Format, SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) Contact Group on Afghanistan, and all other recognised formats for an early resolution to the conflict in Afghanistan." - India-Russia Joint StatementUS, Pakistan to Join Talks

Meanwhile, the US has also confirmed its participation in the talks in Moscow on Friday, IANS further reported.

At a media briefing in Washington on Wednesday, US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino said that his country "believes that all countries should support direct dialogue between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban to reach an end to the war".

"And we've been clear that no government, including Russia, can be a substitute for the Afghan government in direct negotiations with the Taliban," Palladino said.

"In coordination with the Afghan government, the United States Embassy in Moscow will send a representative to the working level to observe the discussions, and the United States stands ready to work with all interested parties to support and facilitate a peace process." - Robert Palladino, Deputy spokesperson, US State Department

According to The Hindu report, delegates from Pakistan will also be present at the meeting.

(With inputs from IANS and The Hindu.)

Also Read: ‘Father of Taliban’ Samiul Haq’s Killing – What’s the Big Deal?

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