The Russian embassy in India has issued a statement on Tuesday dismissing a report published by Indian Express that had claimed that Moscow had asked the other interlocutors to keep India out of the Afghan peace process.
In an article published on Tuesday, the Indian Express had reported that the Russian interlocutors had asked for the stakeholders in the Afghan peace process to leave India out of the dialogue amidst the growing proximity between Moscow and Beijing. According to the report, Russians wanted China, the US, Pakistan and Iran at the table.
“The decision to leave India was apparently done at the behest of Pakistan which has never wanted India to be part of any roadmap for the region,” the report claimed. The Indian Express had quoted unnamed sources to make such claims.
However, the report further claimed that India reached out to all key players in Afghanistan and other countries to make its way to the negotiating table.
“Our interests need to be safeguarded…the next couple of months hold the key to progress,” a top official was quoted as saying.
It was also reported that India could finally enter the peace process along with five other countries to decide on the roadmap for peace in Afghanistan with the backing of the United States after Russians decided to keep India out.
Further, the report said, “By being part of the team, New Delhi hopes to have a role in setting the terms — especially concerning terrorism, violence, women’s rights and democratic values. India’s refrain has been that it wants an Afghan-led, Afghan-controlled and Afghan-owned process but ground realities have been such that other players have dictated terms.”
Russia refutes Indian Express report
A day after Indian Express published its purported claims on the Afghan peace process, Russia expressed its disappointment over half-truths published by the media outlet.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the Russian Embassy in Delhi stressed that Russia “always stated that India plays a very important role in Afghanistan, and its eventual deeper involvement in dedicated dialogue formats is natural”. The embassy slammed Indian Express for publishing the report that seemed to be based on “ill-informed sources”.
Noted publication in the Indian media which seems to be based on the ill-informed sources. Dialogue between #Russia & #India has always been very close & forward-looking on all global & regional issues, including the situation in #Afghanistan ➡ https://t.co/08iEmUpXCZ pic.twitter.com/2zm5S9b2dt— Russia in India 🇷🇺 (@RusEmbIndia) March 9, 2021
“Dialogue between Russia and India has always been very close and forward-looking on all global and regional issues, including the situation in Afghanistan. It has been intensively maintained in bilateral and multilateral formats, including the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group, Moscow consultations, etc.,” a statement from Russian Embassy in response to the report said.
Further, the statement read, “Due to the complexity of the Afghan settlement, moving towards a relevant regional consensus and coordination with other partners, including the US, is critical. We proceed from the importance of the implementation of the US-Taliban agreement signed in Doha in February 2020 and approved by a UN Security Council resolution”.
Afghan peace process
The latest controversy has come amidst the ongoing negotiations between various stakeholders, including the United States, Afghanistan and Islamic terror group Taliban, to achieve sustainable peace in Afghanistan.
Recently, United States Secretary Antony Blinken had written a letter to Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah. In the letter, Blinken had sought a peace conference facilitated by the United Nations (UN) with representatives from six nations, including India, to discuss a “unified approach to supporting peace in Afghanistan”.
In the letter, the US Secretary of State has said Turkey will be approached to host a senior-level meeting of both sides in the upcoming weeks to finalise a peace agreement. The US Secretary of State urged Ghani or his “authoritative designees” to attend the meeting.
Blinken also said that the Geneva-based organisation should convene a meeting with foreign ministers and envoys from Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, India and the US to discuss approaches to support peace in the war-torn country, Afghanistan.
It is speculated that thee peace plan may open the possibility that the USA troops, currently deployed in Afghanistan, might stay on for a longer time.