India clarifies; talks in Moscow on Afghanistan, not with Taliban

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The ministry of external affairs on Friday issued a clarification on the news that India will hold talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

“If any process is consistent with our policy on Afghanistan then we will be part of it. We have made it clear already that our participation is at a non-official level. Don’t know how people are concluding there will be talks with the Taliban, its a meeting on Afghanistan in Moscow,” the ministry clarified according to ANI.

Earlier in the day the ministry had said that India will hold ‘non-official talks’ with the Taliban.

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The news received varied reactions from political parties. Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tore into the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government and questioned that if New Delhi can participate at a non-official level in the Moscow format meeting on Afghanistan, which will be attended by Taliban delegation, then why can’t it hold a dialogue with ‘non-mainstream stake holders’ in regard with the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.

Abdullah took to Twitter and said, “If “non-official” participation in a dialogue that includes the Taliban is acceptable to the Modi government why not a “non-official” dialogue with non-mainstream stake holders in J&K? Why not a “non-official” dialogue centered around J&K’s eroded autonomy & its restoration?.”

On Thursday, Ministry of External Affairs headed by Sushma Swaraj on Thursday confirmed the participation and said, “Our participation at the meeting will be at the non-official level.”

“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. 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.

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Defence Expert Rahul Jalali, also commented on Abdullah’s tweet and was of the view that the Hurriyat first have to accept to sit on the table for discussion with the government. The expert also asserted that “Hurriyats are not prepared to do so especially after giving a boycott call for Panchayat elections in the state”, the ANI reported.

“Of course, Omar Abdullah has a point, but the question is not of non-official dialogue initiated from the side of New Delhi but first Hurriyat have to accept to sit on the table. They first have to show unity within themselves to talk to New Delhi and second they must sit until the issue gets resolved,” he added.

(With ANI inputs)

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