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Russia, India support Afghan-led reconciliation
April 29, 2013, 11:30 am

[Getty Images]

India are backing the US goal of preserving military presence in Afghanistan without a UN mandate [Getty Images]

Moscow has insisted that Russia supports an Afghan-led reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

“We support the process of reconciliation. But it must be led by Afghans and conducted by Afghans,” Russia’s top diplomat for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov said ahead of the Istanbul Process conference on Afghanistan held in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Russia’s position has been supported by other participants of the conference, including India.

“India and Russia have a strong convergence of perceptions of how to move forward” external affairs minister Salman Khurshid said.

“India and Russia agree that the process of peace and reconciliation must be Afghan-owned and Afghan-driven. You can’t give readymade solutions to Afghanistan and tell it to apply them. Solutions have to come from within Afghanistan,” Mr Khurshid told The Hindu.

The two countries differ, however, in their assessments of the planned withdrawal of the US-led NATO mission, with India backing the US goal of preserving military presence in Afghanistan without a UN mandate.

Russia, however, sees the extension of a mandate to keep international military presence in Afghanistan as counterproductive.

“We do not support plans to reformat the ISAF into a long-term foreign military presence in Afghanistan without a United Nations mandate and under a different guise,” said Igor Morgulov, who headed the Russian delegation to the conference.

Speaking at the Istanbul process conference on Afghanistan in Almaty, Russia’s deputy foreign minister said the stalling of the reconciliation process in Afghanistan is a worrying sign.

This is seen as a potential threat to Russia’s Southern borders, as authorities fear turbulence in Northern Afghanistan is poised to spill over to Central Asia.

Afghanistan would be on the discussion agenda at the Russian Security Council Meet on May 8.

Russia’s Security Council will discuss the possible scenarios of Afghanistan development after ISAF withdrawal and foreign minister Sergei Lavrov will present a report.

The Council will also discuss the economic development of Afghanistan and assistance that could be provided by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

Daria Chernyshova

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