The Moscow Format talks on Wednesday, which will see participation by the Taliban and 10 countries including India, will underline the need for an inclusive government in Afghanistan and seek consolidated international efforts to fend off a humanitarian crisis in the country.
While Moscow said a joint outcome document will also be adopted following the talks, both Russia and India expressed reservations about the conduct of the Taliban in recent months that has seen them reneging on promises made to women and minorities. India’s ambassador to Russia D B Venkatesh Varma said in Moscow a few days ago that “in the last several months, unfortunately we have seen that Afghanistan is a story of broken promises’’.
“Whether the Taliban will stand by their commitments and back words with deeds – we will wait and see,’’ he told Russian daily Kommersant.
The Moscow Format talks were preceded by a meeting Tuesday of the extended troika in which Russia, China and Pakistan, according to Moscow, exchanged views on common security threats and expressed interest in providing Afghanistan with urgent humanitarian and economic assistance. Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, however, said after the meeting that recognition for the Taliban government was not under discussion and that Moscow was still prodding Taliban to fulfil the promises they made when they came to power.
India is likely to back a proposal by Russia at the talks for a UN conference to provide humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. PM Narendra Modi had called for urgent and direct humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people and an “inclusive administration’’ in his G20 address. Before sending any aid though, India wants an enabling environment for the UN to ensure a non-discriminatory distribution of aid to the Afghan people.
The Taliban will be represented in the Moscow Format talks, in which they are hoping for steps towards international recognition, by a delegation headed by Abdul Salam Hanafi, second deputy of the prime minister.
Interestingly, the US did not participate in the troika-plus meeting apparently because it was “logistically difficult’’ but expressed support for the format. While no real breakthrough is expected in the talks on Wednesday, the participating countries are expected to press the Taliban for a more inclusive administration. Both Russia and India believe that the current Taliban government is not inclusive and that it shouldn’t receive any international recognition in its current form.