India / India accepts Russia's invite for talks with Taliban

Zoom News : Oct 15, 2021, 01:09 PM
NEW DELHI: India will attend the Moscow Format talks on Afghanistan that will take place on October 20 and will see participation by the Taliban, the government said Thursday. While Russia has never invited India for the extended troika meetings on Afghanistan apparently because India doesn’t have much influence with the Taliban, it sees India as an important partner in the Moscow Format, which includes 11 countries, for forging a regional consensus on Afghanistan.

The MEA spokesperson said India will participate at the joint secretary level in what will be the first Moscow Format meeting since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. India had its first official engagement with the Taliban on August 31 when Indian ambassador to Qatar Deepak Mittal met then deputy head of Taliban’s political office in Doha Mohammad Stanekzai.

Russia has said that the Moscow Format talks will emphasise before a Taliban delegation on the need for a more inclusive government in Afghanistan. Before the Moscow Format though, the extended or expanded troika, which includes US, Russia, China and Pakistan, will have another meeting. While Indian leaders have repeatedly said India’s main concern in Pakistan is terrorism, PM Narendra Modi has himself also said that the government in Afghanistan is not inclusive in its present form.

The Moscow Format was set up in 2017 on the basis of a then six-party consultation mechanism involving Russia, Afghanistan, India, Iran, China and Pakistan. Even in 2018, when Russia had invited Taliban for the Moscow Format meeting, India had participated at a ``non-official level’’ by sending veteran diplomats Amar Sinha and T C A Raghavan to the meeting.