Include Afghan govt, people in peace bid: India

Any peace process in Afghanistan should have 'full consent' of its people: India
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New Delhi: Days after US President Donald Trump called off negotiations with the Taliban, India on Thursday said that any peace process should have "full consent" of the Afghan government and its people.

India is very closely following the developments relating to peace initiatives in Afghanistan, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

"We are following the developments, including talks between the US and the Taliban very closely. We are of the view that all sections of Afghan society including legitimately elected government, should be part of the peace process," Kumar said.

Trump has long wanted to end US involvement in Afghanistan – since his days as a candidate – and American diplomats have been talking with Taliban representative for months about a plan to withdraw thousands of US troops in exchange for security guarantees by the Taliban.

US President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump

US and Taliban had struck a deal earlier this month that could have ended America's longest war. However, in a stunning reversal of efforts, the United States is intent on keeping up military pressure on the militants.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Afghan peace talks were on hold and Washington would not reduce US military support for Afghan troops until it was convinced the Taliban could follow through on significant commitments.

Taliban had lashed back at the decision and warned that this decision by Trump is certain to cost more American lives.

"This will lead to more losses to the US," he said. "Its credibility will be affected, its anti-peace stance will be exposed to the world, losses to lives and assets will increase."

There are currently 14,000 US forces as well as thousands of other NATO troops in the country, 18 years after its invasion by a US-led coalition following September 11, 2001, al Qaeda attacks on the United States.

On Wednesday, September 11, the anniversary of the 9/11 attack, a rocket exploded at the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. It was the first major attack in the Afghan capital since Trump called off US-Taliban talks.

Earlier this year, India had conveyed to the US that it should not withdraw its troops from Afghanistan without putting in place an elected "political structure" to govern the country. India has been a key stakeholder in the peace and reconciliation process in the war-torn country.

"We have supported the election process, which is about to unfold later this month. Our point of view is that any process should respect the constitutional legacy and it should not lead to any ungoverned spaces where terrorists and their proxies can relocate," the MEA spokesperson said.

He said any process should have the full consent of the Afghan government and its people.

"We are reasonably confident that any decision on the peace process taken by the US and the international community will take into account all these concerns," Kumar said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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