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India concerned at direction of events in Afghanistan, says Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in Russia on July 9, 2021. Twitter/DrSJaishankar  

India is concerned at the “direction of events” in Afghanistan, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said on Friday in Moscow.

Addressing a joint press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Mr. Jaishankar said that there is a “legitimacy aspect” to whoever gets to govern Afghanistan.

“Yes, of course we are concerned about the direction of events in Afghanistan. In many cases, when there is volatility in a society, we leave the people of that country to work it out. But Afghanistan is a very different case because for more than 30 years there have been international conferences, there have been groups, and formats to discuss how to stabilise and bring peace to Afghanistan, because it has proven implications for regional security and stability. So the point we stress is that there has to be a reduction in violence,” the Minister said.

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The press conference in Moscow was convened within hours of the Taliban’s declaration that around 85% of Afghan territory is now under the group’s control. Mr. Lavrov confirmed that Taliban has taken over border crossings with Iran and Tajikistan after dislodging Afghan military forces.

The two ministers said they had discussed the evolving situation in Afghanistan during the bilateral talks held earlier in the day as both New Delhi and Moscow are watching the fast evolving situation in Kabul, which is reportedly surrounded by Taliban forces.

Russia's simultaneous meeting

Mr. Jaishankar's visit to Moscow coincided with an interaction between Zamir Kabulov, Special Envoy of the Russian President for Afghanistan and a Taliban delegation led by Sheikh Shahabuddhin Delawar. The Taliban delegation promised not to allow “any one to use the soil of Afghanistan against any one country, nor will tolerate intervention of others,” said Suhail Shaheen, Taliban's ‘spokesman for international media (English)’. He also assured that the Taliban “are not going to target diplomats, embassies and consulates, NGOs and their staff”.

The assurance of safety for the diplomatic missions and staff is important for India which has been closely monitoring the security situation in Kandahar and Mazar-e-Sharif housing Indian missions.

Mr Lavrov emphasised the need for a “political solution” and said the world wants to see the agreement between the United States and Taliban implemented but cautioned that the ongoing clashes between Taliban and Afghan security forces may “spill over to the allied countries”.

Afghan issue to come up at multiple platforms

The Afghan situation will also come up for further consultation at Dushanbe where the ministerial meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) will take place next week. The issue will come up also at Tashkent which will host a conference of Central and Southern Asia.

“We hope all the participants (at Dushanbe and Tashkent) will send a strong message to all the people of Afghanistan to start negotiating for real,” said Mr. Lavrov.

In a symbolic move, Mr. Jaishankar left for Georgia after his interactions in Moscow. In Georgian capital Tbilisi, he is the first Indian External Affairs Minister to visit since the country attained freedom from Soviet control in 1991. His interaction with Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani is likely to be watched by Moscow which continues to have tense bilateral ties with Tbilisi. The visit is being interpreted as a subtle message to Moscow which in recent years has developed working relationship with Pakistan, especially on the security front to establish connection with Taliban.

Explaining the reason for the visit, an Indian official said, “Reality is that Mr Jaishankar's aircraft needs to stop somewhere for refuelling. And this has been a pending visit. I think External Affairs Minister had a brief bilateral last year in Munich, where this invitation was extended. But then COVID-19 came along.”


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Printable version | Jan 27, 2022 3:21:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/legitimacy-aspect-of-who-should-rule-afghanistan-should-not-be-ignored-says-jaishankar/article35232545.ece

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