Khurshid cautiously backs move for talks

Khurshid cautiously backs move for talks

Washington is sending its Special Representative for Afghanistan-Pakistan, James Dobbins, to New Delhi on Wednesday to allay India’s concerns over United States’ recent move to launch a peace-process with Taliban in Doha. 

The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, too reassured his Indian counterpart, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, on Monday that Washington would not “overlook or undermine” New Delhi’s concerns over the move to start peace-talks with Taliban.

Kerry also said that Washington would “consult very closely with India and with others in the region” about its plan on Afghanistan ahead of political and security transitions the war-ravaged country is set to witness in 2014. He said that Dobbins, who was appointed as Af-Pak envoy of the US in May, would travel to New Delhi soon to meet officials in Indian Government. 

The assurance prompted New Delhi to give a cautious support to the US-backed move to bring Taliban to table of negotiations in the capital of Qatar. “I think it’s an experiment that is being done in order to find an alternative for sustainable peace in Afghanistan. One cannot disagree with that,” Khurshid said in a joint news-conference with Kerry after they co-chaired the India-US Strategic Dialogue in New Delhi on Monday. “It’s very clear what the objective is. How far that objective is possible, only time will tell,” he added.

Soon after Taliban opened office in Doha last 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”.

The ‘red-lines’ are the pre-conditions international community set in 2010 for the Taliban to meet before the insurgent group could be engaged in peace-talks. They include Taliban abjuring violence, breaking all ties with Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations, and accepting the Afghan Constitution, including its provision for human rights of men and women.

New Delhi is particularly concerned about the US move to dilute the pre-conditions to start talks with Taliban, including Pakistan-based Haqqani Network, and project them as the desired outcome of the peace-process.

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