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India, Russia have common position and approach on Afghanistan: Envoy Venkatesh Varma

New Delhi: The Indian envoy to Russia Venkatesh Varma has said that India and Russia have a “common position, common approach” when it comes to Afghanistan and both countries are “particularly affected” by the developments in the country with respect to the issue of terrorism, drug trafficking and other issues.

The Taliban takeover of the Afghan national capital Kabul on August 15 surprised the international community and since then heart breaking visuals have emerged from the Kabul international airport of people trying to leave the country.

The ambassador, speaking to RIA Novosti explained, “the situation in Afghanistan is a matter of concern for the entire region….This situation poses threat to the interests of both India & Russia on account of the possibility of rise of terrorist groups, increased drug trafficking, organized crime, the flow of refugees” and also that a “very large amount of very advanced weapons are now in the hands of a large number of armed groups.”

The comments come even as Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev and Indian NSA Ajit Doval will be holding a meeting to discuss Afghanistan in Delhi on Wednesday (September 9).

The meet is part of the permanent consultative mechanism to discuss Afghanistan established after Indian PM Modi and Russian President Putin’s talks on August 24.

On the talks, envoy said, “We expect discussions between Indian, Russia to be very in-depth and action-oriented. India & Russia have a lot of common interests in addressing the Afghan situation, including in the field of anti-terrorism.”

This is the first visit of Patrushev to any foreign country after the emergency of the Taliban as the dominant force in Afghanistan.

He highlighted the “very fast-moving developments in Afghanistan”, including a protests rally in the Afghan capital Kabul which saw anti-Pakistan slogans on Tuesday and was covered by the Afghan and international press.

The rally came days after ISI Chief was seen in the Kabul hotel lobby, sparking worries over Islamabad’s continued interference into domestic affairs of Afghanistan.

On the Doha talks and the Troika Plus meetings, the envoy said that they “have not yielded the right results”, and when it comes to Afghanistan and both countries are in discussing the “evolving situation including on the issue of recognition of the Taliban.”

2020 saw Doha talks– under which the US and Taliban signed a pact in February that began the process of US withdrawal and later the talks between Taliban and representatives of the former Ghani-led Afghan republic ended as a failure.

Troika format was the US, China and Russia plus Pakistan discussing Afghanistan.

Envoy Verma said, “The Doha Agreement of February 2020, the Troika Plus talks – finally the results of these international efforts were not matched by the subsequent developments”, pointing out that that, “it is better that India and Russia work together with respect to Afghanistan. That is the most important lesson for us.”

Interestingly, during his interview, the envoy mentioned India’s “interest in the stability of Central Asian states” in the backdrop of the Afghan crisis. 3 central Asian states, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan share a border with Afghanistan, and the fear is that crisis can impact them as well.

Both New Delhi and Moscow share close ties with these central Asian countries, with Russia being major security and economic partner due to the soviet connection.

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