Participation of all political, ethnic, religious groups must for Afghan peace process: Lavrov

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New Delhi, Apr 6 (PTI) The 'Taliban movement' is part of the Afghan society and any resolution to the conflict in Afghanistan will not be a stable one if it does not see participation of all political, ethnic and religious groups, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday.

He made these remarks at a joint press conference with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar after they held extensive talks covering a range of bilateral, regional and global issues.

On his part, Jaishankar said what happens in Afghanistan impacts its security directly and that a political solution should mean an 'independent, sovereign, united and democratic Afghanistan'.

'For India, what happens in Afghanistan impacts its security directly. I shared our approach that a durable peace there would require harmonising interests of all, both within and around that country,' Jaishankar said.

'The peace process must be based on foundational principles to which we all subscribe. And a political solution should mean an independent, sovereign, united and democratic Afghanistan,' he added.

The external affairs minister said the unfolding developments in and around Afghanistan figured in his talks with Lavrov.

Lavrov said exclusion of any group from the peace process will not lead to an agreement that could be implementable and sustainable.

'The Taliban movement is part of the Afghan society and decisions on the settlement in Afghanistan should see participation of all political as well as ethnic and religious groups,' he said in Russian.

'Otherwise, its not going to be stable. This decision has to be based on the balance of political, ethnic and religious interests,' he said.

There have been renewed global efforts to bring lasting peace to Afghanistan. Russia recently organised a conference in Moscow where all major stakeholders were invited to brainstorm over ways to move forward in the peace process.

In the talks with the Russian delegation, it is learnt that India conveyed very clearly that the gains of the past several years in Afghanistan must be preserved while trying to resolve the Afghan problem.

Lavrov said there was a need to consider the regional context, adding Afghanistan's neighbours should be involved in creating confidence building measures and strengthening of Afghan security forces among other issues.

'We have similar positions on India,' he said.

Lavrov said the 'neighbours and all powerful actors' in the region should set up conditions for Afghanistan to agree to a settlement that is sustainable.

Among the key external actors, he mentioned central Asian countries, India, Pakistan, China, Iran the US and Russia.

'We stand ready to hold respective consultations if it is found to be appropriate by all the countries that I mentioned,' he said.

He said the peace talks in Doha between Afghan government and Taliban were suspended due to 'grave problems' '.

'There are a number of factors that we need to sort out to understand how to settle the conflict in terms of external contribution in setting up all the necessary conditions,' he said.

Lavrov said Russian representative for Afghanistan will keep in touch with India.

India has been a major stakeholder in the peace and stability of Afghanistan. It has already invested USD two billion in aid and reconstruction activities in the country.

India has been supporting a national peace and reconciliation process which is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.

Last month, Afghan foreign minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar visited India during which Jaishanakr conveyed to him India's long-term commitment towards a peaceful, sovereign and stable Afghanistan. PTI MPB ZMN