Kerry wants India to play key role in Afghan poll

Kerry wants India to play key role in Afghan poll
US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday called upon India to play a “central role” in the 2014 elections in Afghanistan, but did not backtrack from Washington’s move to dilute pre-conditions set by the international community for talks with Taliban and to project them as the desired outcome of the process instead.

“Any political settlement must result in the Taliban breaking ties with al-Qaeda, renouncing violence, and accepting the Afghan Constitution,  including its protections for all Afghans, women and men,” Kerry said, speaking on India-US Strategic Partnership shortly after arriving in New Delhi.

Kerry and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid will co-chair the fourth India-US Strategic Dialogue on Monday. 

New Delhi, already, said that it would like to listen to the US on its plan in Afghanistan ahead of the withdrawal of the international forces in 2014, particularly on the move to start peace-talks with Taliban.

The desired results of the peace-process outlined by the US secretary of state on Sunday were in fact enunciated by the international community in 2010 as “red lines” or pre-conditions for the Taliban to meet before the talks could start. Soon after Taliban opened office in Doha on Tuesday and the US indicated its willingness to launch talks with extremist group, India called for “a broad-based Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled reconciliation process, within the framework of the Afghan Constitution and the internationally accepted red lines.”

New Delhi is particularly concerned about the US move to dilute the pre-conditions to launch the peace-process with Taliban, including Pakistan-based Haqqani Network.

The Haqqani Network has close links with Inter Services Intelligence and was suspected to be behind the attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul in 2008. India last week stood by President Hamid Karzai’s Government in Kabul and reiterated that the reconciliation process should not undermine the centrality of the Government of Afghanistan and “the political, social and economic progress” witnessed in the conflict-ravaged country over the past decade.

 “Afghanistan cannot again become a safe haven for international terrorism,” Kerry sought to address New Delhi’s concerns ahead of the Strategic Dialogue. “The world’s largest democracy  can play a central role in helping the Government of Afghan­istan improve its electoral system and create a credible and independent framework for resolving disputes,” Kerry added. 

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