India on Friday made it clear that its participation at a multilateral conference on Afghanistan in Moscow in a “non-official” capacity was in sync with its Afghan policy, asserting that it was not talking to the Taliban
India sent two former diplomats to the meeting Russia hosted Friday for peace in Afghanistan which was attended by representatives from several countries and the Taliban.
Official sources said India sent Amar Sinha and TCA Raghavan as non-official participants for Friday’s meeting. While Sinha served as India’s Ambassador to Afghanistan, Raghvan was a former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan.
According to reports, the Indian representatives did not make any statement in the meeting.
Replying to questions on why India sent representatives to the meeting, although in “non-official” capacity, when the Taliban was participating in it, the spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Raveesh Kumar said India will be part of any peace process which is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled
“We will participate in any process which is consistent with the policy we have for Afghanistan… It was decided by the government that our participation will be at non-official level,” he said
To a question on the participation of the Taliban in the meeting, he said, “Where did we say that there will be talks with the Taliban. We did not say that.”
The conference organised by Russia was attended by representatives of Afghanistan as well as from several other countries including the US, Iran, China, Pakistan and five former Soviet republics in Central Asia.
“In our policy on Afghanistan which we have articulated and which has been consistent for quite some time that we will be supportive of any process in Afghanistan is a party to the process,” said Kumar.
The meeting comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks a host of global issues.
After the talks, in a joint statement, the two sides declared their support to the Afghan government’s efforts towards the realisation of an Afghan-led, and Afghan-owned national peace reconciliation process.
In Moscow, host Russia said no one should play “geopolitical games” in Afghanistan and participation of Taliban and Afghan High Peace Council representatives was aimed at creating conditions for direct talks.
“No one should think in terms of geopolitical games that may result in another transformation of Afghanistan into a field for competition between external players with drastic consequences both for the Afghans and their neighbours,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.
According to Russian news agency TASS, this is for the second time, Russia is attempting to bring regional powers together while discovering ways for establishing peace in war-torn Afghanistan.
The first such meeting, proposed for September 4 of this year, was called off after the US and Afghanistan pulled out of the ‘Moscow-format’ talks.
The US was the first to decline Russia’s invitation. A day later, on August 23, the Afghan government rejected the Russian invitation describing its involvement at the Moscow meeting as “unnecessary”, as the Taliban had “disrespected internationally-sanctioned principles and rejected the message of peace and direct negotiations”.
(With PTI inputs)