Talks on Afghanistan, never said with Taliban, MEA spokesperson clarifies

India’s participation in the talks called by Russia on Afghanistan is not to be construed as a dialogue with the Taliban, the spokesperson of the external affairs ministry (MEA), Raveesh Kumar said on Friday.

India had announced that it would participate at a “non-official” level in the talks on the Afghan peace process being held at Moscow. The talks would include Taliban representatives from its political office in Qatar, reportedly led by Sher Abbas Stanekzai.

However, on a question on whether the Indian representatives, TCA Raghavan and Amar Sinha, would be talking to the Taliban agents, Kumar expressed surprise that some media reports had suggested this.

”Where did we say that there will be talks with the Taliban? I’m surprised that some of the news channels carried this.

“We said that we will be participating in a meeting on Afghanistan which is hosted by Russia. We have decided that non-officials will be participating. But we didn’t say that there will be any talks with the Taliban,” he said.

The MEA spokesperson said India will support any effort to continue the peace process consistent with the policy on Afghanistan — which is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled and with participation of the Afghanistan government.

“It was the considered decision on the government of India that we will participate on a non-official level,” he said refusing to divulge more information.

“The meeting is taking place today (Friday). We will see what happens in the meeting,” he said.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani earlier decided to send a non-official delegation from the High Peace Council, including its deputy heads Haji Deen Mohammad and Habiba Surabi.

Russia, which is hosting the peace talks, said that no one should play “geopolitical games” in Afghanistan,

The US Embassy in Moscow has sent a diplomat to observe Friday’s discussions at the meeting which is being attended by representatives from Iran, China, Pakistan and other countries.

TCA Raghavan and Amar Sinha is a former envoy to Pakistan and Amar Sinha is a former ambassador to Afghanistan.

First Published: Nov 09, 2018 19:35 IST

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