Don’t Join Hands With Taliban, India Tells Russia, Iran

As Russia and Iran plan to negotiate with the Taliban in an attempt to change the ground situation in Afghanistan, India has advised Moscow and Tehran to think twice before making such a move.
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has said in a statement that New Delhi is against joining hands with Taliban. According to the MEA, India believes that the proposed move will backfire because the Islamic fundamentalist political movement in Afghanistan will never respect the internationally agreed red lines and give up terrorism and violence. India also believes that it is difficult for the Afghan outfit to sever all ties with al-Qaeda and follow democratic norms.
A senior MEA official said that India sent the unusual cautionary message to Russia and Iran, as New Delhi considers these two countries as its friends. The official, who wished to remain anonymous, also said that it was India’s duty to warn its strategic partners because Tehran and Moscow’s move in Afghanistan might stir serious trouble in the coming days.
Talking to the media over the weekend, senior MEA spokesperson Vikas Swaroop stressed that India enjoys a special relationship with Russia. “We do not see any downward trend in our bilateral relationship,” he added. However, he made clear that the recent events in the war-ravaged South Asian country disturbed India.
Addressing the Afghan Parliament’s Upper House earlier last week, Russian Envoy to Kabul Alexander Mantytskiy said: “Zamir Kabulov, a high-ranking official in the Russian Foreign Ministry, said our interests are the same as Taliban in fighting Daesh (the ISIS).” The ambassador also said that Moscow considers Taliban as a “national military-political movement”, unlike the IS that is a global jihadist movement. Mantytskiy admitted that the IS could destabilise Russia’s ‘near abroad’ or Central Asia.
Iran, too, is trying to reach out to Taliban in order to keep the IS out of Afghanistan. An Iranian news agency quoted an influential Iranian cleric as saying that Tehran was ready to host “moderate figures”, like Taliban for talks. The Iranian authorities have also decided to invite Taliban leaders to attend a conference on international Islamic Unity in Tehran.
Although Iran has denied any ties with Taliban, senior Afghan officials have slammed Tehran for harbouring families of senior Taliban commanders and for supplying sophisticated weapons to them. India, like Afghanistan, is of the opinion that Iran’s move will ultimately destabilise the South Asian nation.

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