India accepted a Russian invitation to join the Afghanistan talks in Moscow on October 20.
Confirming the Indian participation, Arindam Bagchi, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Thursday: “We have received an invitation for the Moscow format meeting on Afghanistan on October 20. We will participate ”.
It is likely that the MEA will send a co-secretary to the meeting – a final decision has yet to be made.
Last week Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov said Moscow had invited Taliban representatives to international talks on Afghanistan on October 20.
The talks follow a G20 summit on Afghanistan – it was held on October 12 – to help the country avert a humanitarian catastrophe following the change of power there.
Indian Ambassador to Qatar Deepak Mittal had met with representatives of the Taliban in Doha in late August, and the meeting in Moscow will be the second for the Indians.
A place at the table
The United States’ exit from Afghanistan has pushed Russia, China and Pakistan to seek larger roles there, even as India calibrates its position. The Russians had earlier indicated that India could play a “post-conflict” role – a term they reserved for the departure of the United States.
After the fall of Kabul in August, India raised questions about the lack of inclusiveness in the new Taliban regime, the rights of minorities, women and children, and also expressed concern over terrorism emanating from ‘Afghanistan.
In March this year, Moscow hosted an international conference on Afghanistan in which Russia, the United States, China and Pakistan issued a joint statement calling on the then warring Afghan parties to reach an agreement of peace.
The statement also called on the Taliban not to launch offensives in the spring and summer. But as the United States and its allies began to withdraw their troops after 20 years on the ground, the Taliban seized power in a meteoric breakthrough that led to the fall of Ashraf Ghani’s government.
Russia is concerned about the impact in the wider region. Moscow has decided to engage the Taliban, but has not granted recognition to the group which is banned as a “terrorist” organization in Russia.
Unlike Western countries which rushed to evacuate their diplomats after the fall of Kabul on August 15, Russia has kept its embassy there open.