Afghanistan peace conference kicks off in Moscow

Afghanistan peace conference kicks off in Moscow

"We will participate in any process which is consistent with the policy we have for Afghanistan".

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, he said.

Moscow has said that the aim of the upcoming meeting is to help narrow the gaps in the approaches taken by the Afghan government and the Taliban to holding a direct intra-Afghan dialogue.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani earlier made a decision to send a non-official delegation from the High Peace Council, including its deputy heads Haji Deen Mohammad and Habiba Surabi.

India ending speculations would participate at the non-official level for the Moscow format of talks in the Russian capital on Friday where representatives of the Taliban will be present.

"We highly regard Indian support in the peace process in Afghanistan and welcome Indian readiness and that of other partner countries in the Moscow format", the Russian Embassy said in a statement on Thursday. A Russian proposal to hold the talks on September 4 had to be cancelled after the USA pulled out of them, and the Ghani government opposed them.

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Official sources said India sent Amar Sinha and TCA Raghavan as non-official participants for Friday's meeting. While Mr. Sinha was ambassador to Kabul (2013-2016), Mr. Raghavan has held senior posts in the Ministry of External Affairs dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan and was High Commissioner to Islamabad (2013-2015) and is now the Director General of the government-run Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) think-tank based in Delhi.

Russian Federation is hosting peace talks in Moscow to end the war in Afghanistan, drawing delegates from the West-backed Kabul government and a group representing the Taliban, as well as representatives from a dozen nations, including the United States.

Moscow said it had invited representatives from the United States as well as India, Iran, China, Pakistan and five former Soviet republics in Central Asia.

According to the Russian foreign ministry, the main issue on the agenda is the coordination of regional efforts to assist the process of national reconciliation, in the interest of restoring peace in Afghanistan.

Initially, the meeting was proposed for September 4 but it was called off after the Afghan government pulled out of it. India had also declined an invitation to the meeting then. But this time, it has managed to carefully balance Russian and USA interests, as it is sending the Afghan High Peace Council's representatives, instead of its foreign ministry representatives.

A United States watchdog agency said last week that the Afghan government was losing control of districts to the Taliban while casualties among security forces had reached record levels.

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