New Delhi: India has been maintaining its relations with Afghanistan and has been in touch with the country’s various stakeholders in pursuance of its long-term commitment towards peace, development and reconstruction, the Ministry of External Affairs has said.
Addressing the media, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said India has been engaging with Afghans across ethnicities and that it supports all peace initiatives in Afghanistan. “Our relations with Afghanistan are historical and multi-faceted. We have been engaging with Afghans across ethnicities. As a friendly neighbour, we are concerned about peace and security in Afghanistan and the region,” Bagchi said.
The spokesperson refused to comment when his attention was drawn to recent media reports about India’s outreach to certain Taliban factions perceived to be outside the sphere of influence of Pakistan and Iran. “We support all peace initiatives and have been engaged with several stakeholders including regional countries,” he said.
There has been renewed push to speed up the Afghan peace process in the face of the draw-down of troops from Afghanistan by the US by September 11.
“In the recent past, we have had visits by multiple Afghan leaders to India and we have also had official visits to Kabul. We are in touch with various stakeholders, as I said, in pursuance of our long-term commitment towards the development and reconstruction of Afghanistan,” Bagchi added.
In order to bring an end to the devastating war which has ravaged several parts of the country and killed tens and thousands of people, the Taliban and the Afghan government are holding direct talks. On September 12 a year ago, an Indian delegation attended the inaugural ceremony of the negotiations in Doha while External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar was a part of it through a video conference. “As you are aware, the external affairs minister participated in the inaugural ceremony of the intra-Afghan talks held in Doha last year. A senior official delegation attended the talks in Doha,” Bagchi said.
India has been promoting peace and stability for Afghanistan and has been a major stakeholder by having invested close to $3 billion in aid and reconstruction activities in the country. Moreover, it has been supporting a national peace and reconciliation process which is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.
In March, Afghan foreign minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar visited India during which Jaishankar conveyed to him India’s long-term commitment towards a peaceful, sovereign and stable Afghanistan.
(With inputs from PTI)