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Indian role in Afghanistan indispensable

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    Posted: 09-Jan-2019 at 12:39pm
Says Russian minister 

Days after US President Donald Trump mocked PM Narendra Modi and ridiculed Indian aid to Afghanistan referring to the parliament building as 'library', Russia on Wednesday appreciated India's humanitarian and development assistance to the war-torn country.

Visiting Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, when asked about Trump's comments, said development support is very important in conflict zones. "Wars can be won but peace cannot without any material investment on development and education. That is the core, and thus, the Indian effort and efforts of other countries who provide material support to Afghanistan, is an indispensable one," said Ryabkov. 

"We understand the central role of India in Afghanistan. We want and welcome India and Indian representatives in all formats, including the Moscow talks. Regional connectivity is close to the Indian heart. We wish there would be less competition in some circles," he said, stressing on the need for a dialogue with the Taliban.
He stressed that Moscow through its own dialogue process with the Taliban is trying to understand where they stand and is not playing into the hands of one or another. "The only purpose of our effort there is to bring closer the stakeholders. The only way out is a political solution," emphasised Ryabkov. 

The Russian minister's remarks come on a day when Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat speaking at the Raisina Dialogue in Delhi also accepted that engaging the Taliban is needed. "There should be talks with Taliban, but without conditions," responded Gen Rawat to a question. 

Regional players are watching closely the American talks with the Taliban. US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad is leading an inter-agency delegation to India, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan from January 8-21. 

He last visited the region in December 2018. In India he will meet senior government officials to facilitate an intra-Afghan political settlement.

"The US goal is to promote dialogue among Afghans about how to end the conflict, and to encourage the parties to come together at the negotiating table to reach a political settlement where every Afghan citizen enjoys equal rights and responsibilities under the rule of law," said the US government statement.

Afghan National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib was in Delhi last week holding talks with top Indian leaders and officials on the issue of rebuilding and economic reconstruction of his country. 

'Will deliver S400s on time' 

Meanwhile, Ryabkov who is also in charge of the US, lashed out at Trump for walking out of the Iranian nuclear accord JCPOA and imposing unilateral sanctions in violation of international law. He criticised the US for targeting the legitimate form of inter-state Indo-Russian military cooperation through sanctions. He called for developing alternative methods and payment mechanisms to be immune to sanctions like the European Union is trying to create a special purpose vehicle to continue trade with Iran. "Rest assured, we will stick to the timelines for delivery of S400s without any delays as per our contract," said Ryabkov on the issue of the shadow of sanctions on the S400 missile agreement. 

'Putin invitation to Indian PM' for economic meet 

Interestingly, in response to a question by The Tribune if Russia was confident of or hopeful of Narendra Modi's return as PM in the 2019 elections as President Putin had twice invited him to be a Guest at the Economic Summit in September in Vladivostok, Ryabkaov clarified that the invitation is for the "Indian Prime Minister".

"We are in no mood of assessing the situation in India in terms of weighing chances; that would be wrong. It (election) is a purely internal affair. We would welcome an Indian PM to Vladivostok for the economic forum," he said. 

Source: The Tribune
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