afghanistan: India welcomes President Ghani’s decision to initiate intra-Afghan talks

NEW DELHI: India on Wednesday welcomed Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s decision to form a team for intra-Afghan negotiation, hoping that the “positive step” would help in freeing the war-ravaged country from the scourge of “externally sponsored” terrorism.

The announcement by Ghani on formation of the team for intra-Afghan dialogue came weeks after the US inked a historic peace deal with the Taliban, effectively drawing curtains to Washington’s 18-year war in Afghanistan since 2001.

“India welcomes the announcement by the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan about formation of a team for intra- Afghan negotiations,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

India also called upon all sections of the political spectrum in Afghanistan to work together to meet the aspirations of all people in that country including those from the minority community for a prosperous and safe future.

“India has consistently supported an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled process for enduring peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan,” the MEA said.

“In this context, we view the formation of the team as a positive step which would lead to a peaceful and stable future for Afghanistan free from the scourge of externally sponsored terrorism,” the MEA said.

There has been global concerns over Pakistan’s support to Taliban and other terror groups operating in Afghanistan.

Days before inking of the peace deal between the US and Taliban, India conveyed to the Trump administration that pressure on Pakistan to crack down on terror networks operating from its soil must be kept up though Islamabad’s cooperation for peace in Afghanistan is crucial.

The deal, inked on February 29, allows for the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan. The US has lost over 2,400 soldiers in Afghanistan since late 2001. India has been a key stakeholder in the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

India has been supporting a national peace and reconciliation process which is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan controlled.

India has also been maintaining that care should be taken to ensure that any such process does not lead to any “ungoverned spaces” where terrorists and their proxies can relocate.

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