Khurshid to seek more details from US on Afghan plan

Khurshid to seek more details from US on Afghan plan

India will next week seek more information from the United States on the latter’s move to start talks with Taliban in Doha, even as the peace process already seems to be in disarray, with Afghan President Hamid Karzai declining to send any representative to take part in the parleys in Qatar.

New Delhi is understood to be particularly concerned over the purported move by the US to dilute the preconditions laid by international community in 2010 for talks with Taliban.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid is expected to reiterate India’s stand in favour of an “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned” reconciliation process in Afghanistan, when he and American Secretary of State John Kerry would jointly chair the fourth India-US strategic dialogue in New Delhi on Monday.

New Delhi is particularly concerned about Islamabad’s role in the peace process that the US is set to start with the Taliban, including the Haqqani Network based in Pakistan. The US on Tuesday acknowledged Pakistan’s “genuine support” to the peace process and the role Islamabad played to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table in Doha.

Pak’s role

India, however, is wary about Pakistan’s intention of gaining “strategic depth” in Afghanistan by securing for itself a lead role in the peace process between US and the Taliban.Kabul on Wednesday suspended talks on a Bilateral Security Agreement with Washington, with Afghan President Hamid Karzai accusing the US government of being inconsistent in statement and actions about the peace process. He also said that Afghan government would not send any representative to Doha, where the Taliban opened an office on Tuesday.

The US officials are likely to meet the Taliban representatives in Doha on Thursday to start the peace process.

New Delhi is not opposed to the peace process with Taliban, but it has been arguing that the ‘red-lines’ agreed upon by the international community in London in 2010 should be strictly adhered to while engaging in talks with the extremists. It has been insisting that the Taliban should be first made to abjure violence, break all ties with al-Qaeda and other terrorist organisations, and accept the Afghan Constitution, including its provision for human rights of men and women.

Washington, however, diluted the preconditions, with US officials on Tuesday stating that they did not expect the Taliban to immediately declare snapping of its ties with al-Qaeda.

India has been keenly monitoring the move to launch the peace process with Taliban and will seek more clarity on the move when Kerry would meet Khurshid on Monday.
Kerry will arrive in New Delhi on Sunday for his maiden visit to India after succeeding Hillary Clinton as the US Secretary of State. He will also travel to Pakistan and his visit to India.

New Delhi believes that Kerry’s visit would be “an occasion to get from the US a little bit more about what its plans are and how it sees the evolving situation, particularly before or after the withdrawal of the troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014”.
Sources told Deccan Herald that New Delhi would seek to know Washington’s assessment about presidential elections in Afghanistan in 2014.

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