12:39 GMT13 July 2020
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    The development marks a major shift in New Delhi’s policy as this is the first time ever that India will attend a forum in which the Taliban will be present.

    India has confirmed its participation in a meeting on Afghanistan hosted by Russia on Friday where five representatives of the Taliban* will also be present. 

    India's Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the decision reflects India's support to all efforts at peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan that will preserve unity and plurality, and bring security, stability, and prosperity to the country.

    READ MORE: India, China to Jointly Train Afghan Diplomats From October

    "India's consistent policy has been that such efforts should be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, and Afghan-controlled and with the participation of the Government of Afghanistan. Our participation at the meeting will be at the non-official level," the MEA said in a statement on Thursday.

    Other invitees to the 'Moscow format meet on Afghanistan,' which will bring together deputy foreign ministers and special representatives, have all confirmed their participation.

    Russia had sent invitations to the talks to Afghanistan, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, the United States and the Afghan Taliban.

    "We welcome Indian as well as other respected countries' participation in the Moscow format talks. We highly value India's support in the peace process in Afghanistan," Russian embassy in New Delhi issued a statement Thursday.  

    READ MORE: Kabul Confirms to Sputnik It Won't Attend Moscow Conference on Afghanistan

    The last such meeting proposed for September 4 was called off at the last moment after the Afghan government pulled out. However, this time, the Afghan government has sent four members of its High Peace Council to attend the meet. 

    A day ahead of the meeting in Moscow, Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (Taliban) has announced that a five-member delegation will be taking part in the talk that aims to ‘clarify the policy of Islamic Emirate about ending the occupation of Afghanistan to the participants.' 

    "This conference is not about holding negotiations with any party whatsoever; rather it is about finding a peaceful solution to the issue of Afghanistan… With participation in the meeting, the international status of the Islamic Emirate will be strengthened even further," the statement issued by Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan reads.

    Such diplomatic efforts of the Islamic Emirate showcase the active, clear and independent diplomacy and policy of the Islamic Emirate in the political field, Zabihullah Mujahid, spokesman of the organization added.


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