India on Thursday said it will participate in the meeting being hosted by Russia on Afghanistan at a “non-official level” in Moscow where representatives of the Taliban will be present. 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.
In response to queries regarding India’s participation in the meeting, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, “We are aware that the Russian Federation is hosting a meeting in Moscow on 9 November on Afghanistan.” “Our participation at the meeting will be at the non-official level,” he said. 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, he 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,” Kumar asserted. 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 at the last moment after the Afghan government pulled out, describing its involvement in the Moscow meeting as “unnecessary” as the Taliban had “disrespected internationally-sanctioned principles and rejected the message of peace and direct negotiations.” According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, invitations to take part in the event had been sent to Afghanistan, India, Iran, China, Pakistan, the US and some other countries.
The meeting comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks on 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.
Both sides had called upon the international community to join efforts to thwart any external interference in Afghanistan, to restore its economy, contribute to sustaining peace and security, economic and political development of a stable, secure, united, prosperous and independent Afghanistan. India and Russia had resolved to direct their activities towards launching joint development and capacity building projects in Afghanistan.