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In a first, India sharing platform with the Taliban India News

NEW DELHI: While India will attend the Afghanistan meeting hosted by Russia on Friday, the government has said its participation…

NEW DELHI: While India will attend the Afghanistan meeting hosted by Russia on Friday, the government has said its participation will be limited to “non-official level”. The government recalled India’s position that all peace efforts must be led, owned and also controlled by the Afghans.

India’s presence in the Moscow meeting, although not official, is likely to increase its eyebrows, as India will first share a platform with the Taliban for the first time. India will be represented by retired diplomats TCA Raghavan and Amar Sinha.

Official sources said that India’s decision was well thought out and in line with the “comfort level” of the Afghan government. “We are aware that Russia is hosting a meeting in Moscow on November 9 in Afghanistan,” said MEA spokesman Raveesh Kumar. “India supports all efforts in peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan that will maintain unity and diversity and provide security, stability, and prosperity to the country. India’s consistent policy has been that such efforts should be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled and participatory of the Afghan government. Our participation will be on a non-official level, “he added.

Sources said Amar Sinha, former secretary of MEA, who also served as India’s ambassador to Afghanistan, and TCA Raghavan, former Indian high commissioner to Pakistan, will represent New Delhi at Moscow’s talks.

According to the Sputnik news agency, Russia sent invitations to what are called the “Moscow Format” talks with Afghanistan, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, the United States and the Taliban of Afghanistan.

The first meeting in Moscow format saw India represented on the joint secretary, but there were no Taliban in the meeting. “For the first time, a delegation from the Taliban Movement Office in Doha will attend an international meeting at this level,” a press release from Moscow said. While the Afghan government does not participate directly in the meeting, a delegation from the country’s high peace council is expected to attend. The Russian Embassy said in a reaction that it welcomed India and other countries’s participation and that it highly appreciated India’s support for peace process.

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