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India slams Pak’s ‘destabilizing’ role
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India slams Pak’s ‘destabilizing’ role

New Delhi, Jan 11 : India on Friday slammed Pakistan for its "destabilizing" role in Afghanistan and asserted that New Delhi is firmly committed to support Afghanistan's efforts towards a peace and reconciliation process that is led, owned and controlled by Aghanistan only.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told a press conference here that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday met the the visiting United States Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and discussed things in details.

"Essentially, both sides shared perspective on peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. Khalilzad briefed External Affairs Minister on their aspect as to how the US is trying to achieve peace and reconciliation in that country," he said.

The spokesman said India also made "it very clear that peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan should be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, and Afghan-controlled."

He said that Mr Khalilzad also met Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale on Friday morning.

India has been a key stakeholder in Afghanistan's peace and reconciliation process and has been pushing for an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace process.

In November last year, India had participated in talks on Afghanistan in Moscow of which the Taliban were also a part but New Delhi was represented by two retired officials.

Asked if Pakistan's role was discussed between the US envoy and the Indian side, the spokesman said: "This is something we have articulated time and again, about the destabilizing role they (Pakistan) plays. We reiterate our policy on Afghanistan."

During Khalilzad's meeting with Sushma Swaraj on Thursday, US ambassador to India Ken Juster was also present.

Mr Khalilzad, who is expected to visit China, Pakistan and Afghanistan, made first visit to India after taking over the key assignment.

To a question on Army Chief General Bipin Rawat saying that "there should be talks with Taliban" but without "any preconditions", the MEA spokesman said: "Our position on Afghanistan has been very clear and very consistent. We have said in the past and we continue to do that India supports the peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan. We have also said that we support the process which is inclusive towards achieving this goal and there has been no change in that position."

Army chief General Bipin Rawat has said at the Army's annual press conference here on Thursday that: "If a number of countries are talking to the Taliban, and if India has an interest in Afghanistan, then we should also join the bandwagon. We should not be left out".

It may be mentioned here that India as a policy does not engage with the Taliban even as Pakistan, Iran, Russia, and the US have been engaging with them.

Iran lately offered its 'communication lines' to India to engage with the Taliban. However, at a recent Moscow meet, India had deputed two "non-official" representatives to talk over issues concerning Afghanistan in which the Taliban was also present.

Two former diplomats - Amar Sinha, India's former envoy to Afghanistan and TCA Raghavan, an old hand in Pakistan-Afghanistan matters, were deputed for the talks in Russia. (UNI)