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India in extended troika on Afghanistan? Russia yet to decide
Even as it backs a stronger role for India in the Afghanistan peace process, Russia is yet to make up its mind on India’s participation in the extended troika format involving US, China, Russia and Pakistan.
The group is promoting a negotiated settlement with comprehensive and permanent ceasefire. After Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov’s remark last week in Tashkent that Moscow was considering India and Iran’s participation in the format, President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, said India can’t join the group because “it has no influence with the Taliban”.
“The format of the extended troika ...is convened exclusively to facilitate the launch of the intra-Afghan talks leading to national accord. Only countries that have an unequivocal influence on both sides (of the conflict) participate,” said Kabulov in Moscow on Tuesday.
Kabulov, according to Russian agency TASS, said that India-Pakistan “contradictions” were being “projected” on the Afghanistan situation. “The Indians suspect the Pakistanis of striving to use Afghanistan as a strategic rear (sic). The Pakistanis suspect India of wanting to use Afghan territories to harm Pakistan’s interests,” he said.
Asked about Kabulov’s remarks, diplomatic sources said he meant to say that the format remained unchanged as Moscow is yet to take adecision on India’s participation. Reacting to media queries, the embassy said that Russia’s “dedicated cooperation” with India as an active participant in dialogue mechanisms on Afghan issues and “the special and privileged strategic partner is natural, trusted and forward-looking”.
[Source: The Times of India, Tnn, New Delhi, 22Jul21]
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