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In a first, India deputes retired diplomats for Russia-initiated meet: Afghan Taliban to attend

In a first, India deputes retired diplomats for Russia-initiated meet: Afghan Taliban to attend

New Delhi/Moscow, Nov 8 (UNI) Asserting that India supports all efforts to ensure peace, security and stability in terror-ravaged Afghanistan, New Delhi on Thursday confirmed its participation in the multilateral talks with the Afghan Taliban in a Russia-initiated move but only at a 'non-official level'.

"Our participation at the meeting will be at the non-official level," MEA spokesman Raveesh Kumar said in reply to a query.

Two retired diplomats TCA Raghavan and Amar Sinha are likely to represent India 'at non official level', sources said.

The Government of India in the past has taken keen interest to be part of Heart of Asia and other dialogue fora on Afghanistan.

"We are aware that the Russian Federation is hosting a meeting in Moscow on November 9 on Afghanistan," MEA spokesman said adding 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 participation of the Government of Afghanistan," the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, in a much significant development, the US State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said: “In coordination with the Afghan government, the United States embassy in Moscow will send a representative to the working level to observe the discussions and the United States stands ready to work with all interested parties to support and facilitate a peace process".

The US stance is in departure from its previous stance of boycotting the format.

An Afghan delegation is also likely to attend international talks on the war-torn country in Russia.

Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, a government body responsible for reconciliation efforts with the militants, is expected to send four representatives for the same, media reports said.

Notably, an MEA Joint Secretary level officer had attended the earlier dialogue in Moscow on Afghanistan's future in September meet- which, however, did not include any Afghan Taliban representatives.

According to Russian news agency Tass which quoted Russian Foreign Ministry, representatives of the Taliban radical movement (outlawed in Russia) will take part in the meeting.

"On November 9, Moscow will host the second meeting of the Moscow-format consultations on Afghanistan at the level of deputy foreign ministers and special envoys," the Russian Foreign ministry said.

"A delegation of the Doha-based political office of the Taliban movement will take part in an international meeting of this level for the first time."

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, invitations to take part in the event have been sent to Afghanistan, India, Iran, China, Pakistan, the US and some other countries.

"Afghan President Ashraf Ghani decided to send a delegation of that country’s High Peace Council to the meeting," the ministry added.

According to media, Afghanistan's foreign ministry spokesman Sibghat Ahmadi has said that: ".....our agreement with the Russians is that this meeting should lead to direct talks between us (Afghan government) and the Taliban, if it does not happen like this, then this will reflect the intention of the Taliban and this means they (Taliban) are not prepared for peace".

UNI DEVN AR 2152

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