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India not talking to Taliban, only participating in Afghan-led peace process, clarifies MEA

"There is nothing that we are doing under compulsion here," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said at a media briefing.

Edited by: India TV News Desk, New Delhi [ Updated: November 10, 2018 7:28 IST ]

Raveesh Kumar, MEA Spokesperson

Making its stand clear over India's participation at a multi-lateral conference on Afghanistan in Moscow, the Ministry of External Affairs on Friday said India was participating in a "non-official" capacity and that it was in sync with its Afghan policy. 

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.

On being questioned as to why India sent representatives to the meeting when the Taliban was participating in it, MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said: "India will be part of any peace process which is Afghan-led, Afghan-owed 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 participation of Taliban in the meeting, he said,"where did we say that there will be talks with Taliban. We did not say that."

Amar Sinha, former Secretary in the External Affairs Ministry who also served as India's Ambassador to Afghanistan, and T.C.A. Raghavan, former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, were representing New Delhi at the talks in Moscow on Friday.

This is the first time that India is sharing the talks table with the Afghan Taliban on issues of peace and stability in Afghanistan.

The Indian move comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to New Delhi last month for the annual bilateral summit with Prime Minister Narendra 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," the statement said.

New Delhi and Moscow also resolved to launch joint development and capacity building projects in Afghanistan.

Russia sent invitations for what is called the Moscow Format talks to Afghanistan, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, the US and the Afghan Taliban.

(With agency inputs)

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