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India Will Participate in Russia Talks Involving Taliban on October 20, Confirms MEA

Members of Taliban political office Abdul Latif Mansoor (R), Shahabuddin Delawar (C) and spokesperson Suhail Shaheen in Moscow, Russia in July. (Reuters)

Members of Taliban political office Abdul Latif Mansoor (R), Shahabuddin Delawar (C) and spokesperson Suhail Shaheen in Moscow, Russia in July. (Reuters)

This will be the first edition of the Moscow Format on Afghanistan since the Taliban stormed to power.

India will participate in the meeting being hosted by Russia involving the Taliban next week, the Ministry for External Affairs said on Thursday.

A Taliban delegation has already confirmed that they will attend the October 20 event in Moscow for the so-called Moscow format talks on Afghanistan, Russia’s TASS news agency quoted the Russian foreign ministry as saying.

The Moscow talks also involve China, Pakistan and Iran.

This will be the first edition of the Moscow Format on Afghanistan since the Taliban stormed to power.

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While India’s first formal contact with the Taliban was in Doha on August 31, the Moscow Format will enable the first formal contact between New Delhi and the interim Taliban government in Kabul.

Moscow had hosted an international conference on Afghanistan in March at which Russia, the United States, China and Pakistan released a joint statement calling on the then-warring Afghan sides to reach a peace deal and curb violence.

It also called on the Taliban not to launch any offensives in the spring and summer.

Since then, the United States and its allies withdrew their troops after 20 years on the ground, the Taliban seized power in a lightning advance and the previous government collapsed.

Russia is worried about the potential for fallout in the wider region and the possibility of Islamist militants infiltrating the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, which Moscow views as its southern defensive buffer.

In the wake of the Taliban takeover, Moscow has held military exercises in Tajikistan and bolstered its hardware at its military base there.

Putin on Thursday also held a phone call with Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon in which the two leaders discussed the security situation surrounding the latest developments in Afghanistan, the Tajik presidency said in a statement.

The need to be recognised

A high-level delegation of the Taliban rulers also arrived in Turkey on Thursday for talks with Turkish officials.

The visit to Ankara comes after Taliban leaders held a series of meetings with the United States, 10 European nations and European Union representatives in Doha, the Qatari capital, earlier this week.

The Taliban are seeking international recognition as they warn that weakening their government will affect security and spark an even bigger exodus of migration from the country.

The current, Taliban-appointed Afghan government, which the former insurgents say is only interim, is comprised solely of Taliban figures, including several blacklisted by the United Nations.

The Moscow Format launched by Russia is a negotiation mechanism established in 2017 to address Afghan issues. It currently includes India, USA, Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, Iran and Central Asian states.

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first published:October 14, 2021, 18:19 IST