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India to attend non-official multilateral meeting with Afghan Taliban

IANS/New Delhi 08 Nov 18 | 07:12 PM

India on Thursday said that it will attend, albeit at a non-official level, a multilateral meeting in Moscow on the Afghanistan issue on Friday where the Afghan Taliban will also be present.

"We are aware that the Russian Federation is hosting a meeting in Moscow on November 9 on Afghanistan," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in response to queries by the media.

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"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.

This will be the first time that India will be sharing a talks table with the Afghan Taliban on the issue of peace and stability in Afghanistan.

"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 said.

"Our participation at the meeting will be at the non-official level."

Sources here said 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, will represent New Delhi at the Moscow talks.

According to Sputnik news agency, 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.

The Indian move came after Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to New Delhi in October 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 realization of an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned national peace reconciliation process.

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

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