New Delhi: India on Thursday said that it would engage in a talk with the Taliban, at a “non-official level”, in the meeting being hosted by Russia on Afghanistan. The multilateral talk will be held today and representatives of the Afghan Taliban radical movement will take part in it, the Russian Foreign Ministry officials said.

Confirming India’s participation in the Moscow meeting, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, “We are aware that the Russian Federation is hosting a meeting in Moscow on 9 November on Afghanistan. Our participation at the meeting will be at the non-official level.”

He further said that “India supports all efforts at peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan that will preserve unity and plurality, and bring security, stability, and prosperity to the country”. “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,” Kumar asserted.

This is the second time Russia has tried to bring regional powers at a talk with each other with an aim of peace while also discovering ways for establishing tranquility in war-torn Afghanistan. In the first meeting, talks were cancelled after the Afghan government pulled out, describing its involvement in the Moscow meeting as “unnecessary”.

Justifying its pulling out of the talks, Afghanistan said that the Taliban had “disrespected internationally-sanctioned principles and rejected the message of peace and direct negotiations.” According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, invitations to take part in the event had been sent to Afghanistan, India, Iran, China, Pakistan, the US, and some other countries.

This is the first time India has agreed to participate in talks with the Taliban for the establishment of peace in Afghanistan.

The meeting comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks a host of global issues. After the talks, in a joint statement, the two sides declared their support to the Afghan government’s efforts towards the realisation of an Afghan-led, and Afghan-owned national peace reconciliation process.

With PTI inputs