India ‘observes’ how the United States, the Taliban start signing an agreement | India News
The Taliban have an office in the capital of Qatar and, therefore, negotiations between the group and the US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad took place there.
What is the deal?
The agreement follows a partial truce of a week, a “reduction of violence” agreed by the United States and the Taliban. Although skirmishes were reported during the period, observers say the partial truce, in general, was successful, with a violence reduction of almost 80%. The agreement requires intra-Afghan talks between the Taliban and the Kabul government, the first, as well as other armed tribal groups within 10 to 15 days; reduction of US troops in Afghanistan from the current 13,000 to 8,600; and the release of many Taliban prisoners held by the Afghan government. According to the Taliban, US troops will also withdraw the remaining troops in 14 months, although Washington has not confirmed this.
While the full list of attendees has not been published, Pakistan (which has influence over the Taliban), India and Russia have been invited. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in Doha on Thursday. The Australian professor Timothy Weeks, who was held captive for three years by the Taliban, also attended as a witness. In a symbolic act, Weeks was received by Anas Haqqani, one of the three militants released by Afghanistan in November 2019, in exchange for Weeks’ freedom. Anas Haqqani is the younger brother of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of the powerful Haqqani network.
India will also be present in the room, for the first time, although as an observer; New Delhi will be represented by its ambassador to Qatar, P Kumaran. India has negotiated with the Taliban once before, but in a completely different context: the abduction of Indian Airlines in 1999. During the negotiations between the United States and the Taliban, New Delhi had insisted on a “Afghan-led” approach. However, India sent two former diplomats as “unofficial representatives” in talks led by Moscow with the Taliban in November 2018.
The Foreign Secretary of India visits Afghanistan before the agreement between the United States and the Taliban
Before the peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla made a one-day visit to Kabul on Friday to convey support to the Afghan people in their quest for sustainable peace, security and development, said the MEA.
Shringla held talks with interim foreign minister Haroon Chakhansuri and also with the NSA Hamdullah Mohib. He also called Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and handed him a congratulatory letter from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Ghani thanked India’s constant support for democracy and constitutional order in Afghanistan.
Shringla also asked the Afghan chief executive Abdullah Abdullah. Shringla and Abdullah agreed that independent, sovereign, democratic, pluralistic and inclusive Afghanistan would promote peace and prosperity in the region, the MEA said.
The Foreign Secretary evaluated the events in the country before the peace agreement to be signed in Doha on Saturday and reiterated India’s commitment to be with Afghanistan while the latter seeks reconciliation. Shringla also stressed the fact that India was not in favor of the hasty withdrawal of troops by the United States and that any peace process should also insist on eliminating terrorist sanctuaries. Mohib expressed his appreciation for the medical and training facilities of India for the Afghan national security and defense forces.