India, US discuss Afghanistan peace process

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New Delhi–┬áIndia and the US on Thursday discussed the ongoing peace process in Afghanistan during a meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushm Swaraj and US President Donald Trump’s Special Envoy on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad here.

“Both sides shared their perspectives on peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted soon after the meeting.

Thursday’s meeting comes after Trump earlier this month said that India was not doing enough for peace and stability in Afghanistan.

India hit back with sources here saying that New Delhi does not send troops abroad except under a specific UN mandate.

Pointing out that India plays a significant role as a development partner in Afghanistan, the sources said this partnership was built on the specific needs and requirements worked out with the Afghan government.

Khalilzad’s visit for an intra-Afghan political settlement reflects New Delhi’s stand that it is is for an “Afghan-owned, Afghan-led and Afghan-controlled” peace and reconciliation process.

Khalilzad is leading an inter-agency delegation to India, China, Afghanistan, and Pakistan from January 8-21

Earlier in the day, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that India’s role is needed in the war-ravaged country’s peace process.

“India and Afghanistan share an amazing relationship, an almost romantic one,” Karzai said in response to a question during a session in the Raisina Dialogue, India’s flagship annual geopolitical and geostrategic conference, here.

“Most of the Afghan people view in such good light… We want India to do as much as possible,” he said.

Stating that India is the “greatest contributor” to Afghanistan, Karzai said that it should play its role in the peace process on its own detached from other countries.

He said that an Afghan-owned, Afghan-led peace process is one in which the Taliban, along with other stakeholders, sit down for dialogue.

“It means truly the leadership of Afghanistan,” the former President said.

He said till now there have been three peace processes in Afghanistan – first by China, the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan, then by Russia engaging with the Taliban, and now the latest one with Trump appointing Khalilzad as his Special Envoy for Afghanistan.

“We have tremendous hope for the peace process (with Khalilzad’s role) to succeed,” Karzai said.

“Khalilzad himself is an Afghan and understands us, knows what peace means for us.” (IANS)


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