India will not hold talks with Taliban: MEA

Frederick Owens
November 10, 2018

"The Americans have realized that we should solve the Afghan problems through negotiations", he said, admitting that the talks are at the very early stages and so far amounted to "confidence-building measures".

He will stay in the region from Nov 8 to 20 and will meet Afghan government officials and other interested parties to "advance the goal of an intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations that include the Taliban and lead to a sustainable peace", the State Department said.

The peace conference held in Moscow included four senior members of Afghanistan's High Peace Council along with the Taliban representatives.

Some MPs said they don't see any positive impact of meetings on peace as the war continues unabated. This will be the first appearance by the Taliban at such an global conference, Zakharova emphasized.

Shaheen also denied accusations by the U.S. military that Russian Federation has supplied weapons to the Taliban, echoing a similar denial by Moscow.

India has not participated in the multilateral meeting which involves the Taliban in the past, reported the daily.

Apart from India, the Moscow meeting Friday was attended by representatives from the US, Pakistan, China, Iran and some Central Asian countries.

Russia hopes "through joint efforts to open a new page in the history of Afghanistan", Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said as the talks opened at a Moscow hotel on Friday morning. "India's consistent policy has been that such efforts should be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, and Afghan-controlled and with the participation of the Government of Afghanistan", the MEA said. "It is clear that on the way to this goal it is necessary to overcome a lot of obstacles, including mutual grievances and mistrust accumulated by the parties", he said, adding that the objective of the talks was to create conditions favourable to "direct negotiations between the [Ghani] government, the Taliban Movement and representatives of the country's broad public and political circles".

The meeting drew considerable criticism from Kabul as it did not involve the Afghan government.

The conference was held at the level of deputy foreign ministers and related special representatives.

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TRT World speaks with Omar Samad, former Afghan foreign ministry spokesman, for more. Kabul, for its part, sent a 4-member delegation of its High Peace Council (HPC), which has been tasked with the reconciliation process.

Newly appointed United States peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has been trying to convince the Taliban to agree to negotiate an end to the war and there are fears the Russian meeting could derail those efforts.

"Our expectations are to talk to the members at this meeting", she said.

She added: "We came here for a political solution". However, this time around, the country seems to be handling both the USA and Russian Federation in an effective manner.

Citing anonymous Russian diplomats, AA notes, "The President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Mr. [Ashraf] Ghani, chose to send a delegation of the country's High Peace Council to the meeting".

Meanwhile, Taliban spokesman Mohammed Suhail Shaheen stressed that the withdrawal of foreign troops is crucial for the Afghan peace process.

The group reaffirmed that position in Moscow, saying it would talk directly to the demand its pullout from the country.

Addressing participants at the start of the conference, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the meeting is meant to seek paths to national reconciliation in Afghanistan.

Russian President Vladimir Putin supported the US military campaign in Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks, but Moscow has grown increasingly critical of USA actions as relations with Washington have soured, and is stepping up its own diplomatic outreach across the region.

The meeting comes at a sensitive time.

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