Taliban Talks on Afghanistan Prompt Indian, Russian Officials Meet in Delhi

Taliban Talks on Afghanistan Prompt Indian, Russian Officials Meet in Delhi”

Meanwhile, affirming the negotiations, the Afghan Taliban said that preliminary talks were held with Khalilzad and "extensive" meetings were also held with officials from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE while pointedly refusing to have met any official from the Afghan government.

Officials in New Delhi kept a wary eye on the two-day talks between the United States special envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, and a Taliban delegation that ended in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

In another tweet, the special U.S. diplomat said that he updated the leadership in Pakistan about the Abu Dhabi meetings.

The insurgents have countered with an offer of a ceasefire if the government of President Ghani were replaced with a caretaker administration, an impossible demand that... New Delhi's concerns about Pakistan's efforts to shape the processes to its advantage and to counter India's presence in Afghanistan have also been conveyed to the United States, they said.

The US says the aim of the talks is to facilitate an Afghan-led process and the inclusion of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Pakistan in the talks reflects a US desire to bring in countries with an interest in Afghanistan.

While the Afghan government's peace delegation is on its fourth day in Abu Dhabi, the Taliban has rejected any kind of meeting with the actual government delegation.

"It indicates that possibly Anas Haqqani will be swapped with the lecturers of the American University of Afghanistan. and there is the possibility that more Taliban could be released from jail", said political analyst Hassan Haqyar.

"Had productive meetings in the UAE with Afghan and worldwide partners to promote intra-Afghan dialogue towards ending the conflict in #Afghanistan", said, in a tweet, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad, who led the US side at the talks.

The developments coincide with a shift in India's position on the Afghan Taliban - from one of having no engagement with the militants who control or contest nearly half of Afghanistan's territory, to that of some form of engagement, as evidenced by New Delhi's non-official participation in the so-called Moscow format talks in Russian Federation on November 9.

Addressing an event in Kabul, Daudzai said, "Soon you will witness a team that will start work on the peace deal and peace is near; not in the coming days but in the coming months". Achieving a military victory has not been possible for either side and restoring peace is the only practical way to end the crisis in Afghanistan.

"The idea of eliminating the Taliban was incorrect, while powerful countries have come to the conclusion that the idea was wrong", he said.

The Foreign Office on Monday (December 18) had said Pakistan is committed to peace and reconciliation process in war-ravaged Afghanistan.

Pakistan took credit for bringing Taliban insurgents to the negotiating table to assist in the Washington-initiated bid aimed at ending the 17-year-old Afghan war. "Peace is also being considered between the Taliban and this is a good opportunity", Daudzai said.

"We would need peace on our eastern and western borders if we want to take the nation out of poverty", he said and added Pakistan has never refused to hold dialogues.

The US department of state has once again said that the only solution to the conflict in Afghanistan is a political solution and talks.

In a social media post, the USA special envoy said he met with Pakistan leaders to update them "on the state of play" following their meetings in UAE.

Khalilzad said he would like to see a "roadmap" agreement reached before Afghan presidential elections, scheduled for next April.

Sabena Siddiqui is a foreign affairs journalist and geopolitical analyst with special focus on the Belt and Road Initiative, CPEC and South Asia.

But the Taliban said they did not discuss the creation of an interim government and elections with U.S. diplomats in the UAE. Apparently, Taliban leader Haibaitullah Akhundzada ordered the three to attend the UAE meetings, the official said.

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