Kabul continues to occupy a prime place in New Delhi’s deliberations with other countries and with the second India-U.S.-Afghanistan meet scheduled here for next week, the United Kingdom sought to assuage hurt Indian sentiments over the country not being kept in the loop about the third Afghanistan-Pakistan meet it hosted recently in London.
While the Afghans briefed South Block on discussions between their President Hamid Karzai and his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari earlier this month with British Prime Minister David Cameron, the Indians were miffed at Downing Street keeping them in the dark.
As Mr. Cameron will be in Delhi next week, British Foreign Secretary William Hague called up External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid to assure him that the main intention was to speed up the reconciliation process. India wants this to take place with the “red lines” in place — talks with Taliban to be held only if it gives up violence and agrees to abide by the Afghan Constitution.
From reports filtering in from London about the meeting, New Delhi apprehended pushing the envelope (with respect to the red lines). Mr. Hague reportedly clarified that the red lines won’t be disturbed and explained that the third meeting – after similar exercises last year in Kabul and London – was aimed at examining the issues that the Taliban would bring into a dialogue, if it takes place.
With enormous amounts of money and lives invested in attempting to stabilise Afghanistan over the past decade, India’s message to the officials’ level trilateral will be to ensure that the reconciliation exercise is guided by the basic principle agreed upon by the international community — the Taliban to abjure violence and express faith in the present Afghan Constitution and leadership.
The delegations to the talks will be led by Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Jawed Ludin, Additional Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs Y.K. Sinha and U.S Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake.