India to attend Afghan peace talks in Moscow

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Head- Deputy Chairman of the Afghanistan High Peace Council Din Mohammad Azizullah and Head of Political Office of the Taliban Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai

"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.

Kumar further said that India is just part of the meeting as it supports the reconciliation process.

However, the Afghan government confirmed that a four-person delegation from the country's High Peace Council will be attending the meet, while the Taliban also said they would send representatives to Moscow.

Moscow on Friday hosted worldwide talks on Afghanistan aimed at kick-starting direct negotiations between Kabul and the Afghan Taliban, both of whom sent delegations. While Mr. Sinha was ambassador to Kabul (2013-2016), Mr. Raghavan has held senior posts in the Ministry of External Affairs dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan and was High Commissioner to Islamabad (2013-2015) and is now the Director General of the government-run Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) think-tank based in Delhi.

Official sources said India sent Amar Sinha and TCA Raghavan as non-official participants for Friday's meeting.

The talks come weeks after newly appointed United States special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, held talks with the Taliban group in Qatar.


The Ghani government said this week it is allowing the delegation of the High Peace Council (HPC) that is designated to further the reconciliation process with the Taliban on the understanding the Moscow format will lead to direct talks with the Taliban.

"We are aware that the Russian Federation is hosting a meeting in Moscow on 9 November on Afghanistan". Regional players like Pakistan, China and Iran are among the participants of the meeting hosted by Russian Federation. The US had declined to attend the discussions.

"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.

Russia's first attempt to hold the conference in September fell through after the Afghan authorities refused to attend.

A USA watchdog agency said last week that the Afghan government was losing control of districts to the Taliban while casualties among security forces had reached record levels. After the Afghan government cancelled its participation, India too followed suit on the pretext that it would be untenable for New Delhi's representatives to share the table with a Taliban delegation - when Afghanistan's democratically-elected government would be staying away.

One of the main issues that Nessar expects the Taliban to discuss with the Afghan government at the conference is the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the country, primarily American forces.

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