PM Modi assures Abdullah Abdullah of India’s support for Afghan peace process

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured Afghan peace negotiator Abdullah Abdullah on Thursday of India’s continued backing for the peace process in Afghanistan.

Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation in Afghanistan, met Modi at his official residence to brief him on the peace process and the talks currently being held by the Afghan government and the Taliban at Doha in Qatar.

“Pleased to meet HE Narendra Modi @narendramodi, the Prime Minister of Republic of #India. In our friendly discussion we took stock of the latest developments on the #AfghanPeaceProcess, the talks in Doha, & India’s support for the peace efforts,” Abdullah tweeted.

“HE PM assured me of India’s continued support for the peace process, & Afghanistan. I thanked him & the people of India for the invitation, & generous hospitality. I also thanked India for its principled position on the #AfghanPeaceProcess,” he added in another tweet.

Abdullah arrived in India on Tuesday for a five-day visit as part of an outreach to key countries in the region for seeking support for the negotiations in Doha. He travelled to New Delhi after a three-day visit to Islamabad last week.

He is also scheduled to deliver a speech at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) and hold talks with external affairs minister S Jaishankar on Friday.

Before arriving in India, Abdullah said in a statement that India is a “strategic partner of Afghanistan”. He added “the role of India in establishing a lasting peace in Afghanistan and the region is vital”, and that he would discuss the need for regional consensus and support for the Afghan peace process with the Indian leadership.

On Wednesday evening, Abdullah met National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, who told him India favours a democratic and sovereign Afghanistan “where no terrorists can operate”.

Doval also hosted a dinner for Abdullah’s delegation that was attended by foreign secretary Harsh Shringla, Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, army chief Gen MM Naravane, senior officials of the external affairs ministry and key members of the High Council for National Reconciliation.

In Islamabad, he had met Prime Minister Imran Khan, foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa. Abdullah told the Pakistani leadership that a message about reducing violence and showing greater flexibility in negotiations should be communicated to the Taliban leadership participating in the negotiations in Doha.

India, the region’s largest provider of development aid to Afghanistan, has expressed concern at a recent spike in violence by the Taliban and terror attacks on minorities such as Sikhs. It has said intra-Afghan negotiations must ensure the interests of minorities, women and vulnerable sections of society and reduce violence across Afghanistan and its neighbourhood.

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