- In a recent development, India is among six nations participating in a conference on Afghanistan’s future in Moscow on 15th February, 2017.
- Incidentally, this is roughly two months after Russia hosted a similar conference with only China and Pakistan.
- It is important to note that after India and particularly Afghanistan objected to being cut out of the discussion, Moscow agreed to expand its ambit, announcing a six-nation conference of Russia, India, Iran, Pakistan, China and Afghanistan.
- It is reported that the issue of exclusion was raised by Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar during his talks with the Russian delegation at the Heart of Asia conference in Amritsar in early December last year.
- MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said, “India has always believed in close and constructive cooperation for peace, stability, security and development in Afghanistan. To this end we actively participate in several bilateral and multilateral consultations.”
The Geopolitical Situation
- India is increasingly uncomfortable with Russia’s overtures to Pakistan on defence issues.
- Significantly, Russia did not join the U.S., U.K. and France in sponsoring a resolution against Jaish chief Masood Azhar at the U.N. sanctions committee last month, a resolution which China then put a hold on.
- Russia has been seen as favouring a softer line on the Taliban as a counter to the spread of Islamic State (IS) in Afghanistan.
- Russia and China have also been coordinating closely to demand the delisting of senior Taliban leaders designated as terrorists by the U.N. sanctions committee.