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India, Russia to hold talks on Afghanistan

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KABUL: India, seen as a key player in peace-making in Afghanistan, is ramping up diplomatic efforts with Russia, with its External Affairs Minister heading to Moscow to discuss the current situation in the war-torn country.

Indian foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar is, however, taking a detour in Iran where a meeting of Taliban and Afghan officials is on the anvil. He is expected to be in Moscow later this week.

According to Hindustan Times, situation in Afghanistan will dominate Jaishankar’s agenda of high-level meetings with Russian leaders.

They are expected to “discuss all bilateral and international developments, including the most vital and current issues such as Afghanistan,” the report said.

Jaishankar’s visit to Moscow comes on the heels of an official trip by his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, to New Delhi in April.

With Moscow’s overarching view that New Delhi is a key player in Afghanistan, Russia has been engaging extensively with India in recent months seeking to “formulate a coordinated response to the situation in Afghanistan.

This happens against the backdrop of a thorny rivalry between India and Pakistan in Afghanistan geopolitics.

India’s involvement in Afghanistan has long irked Islamabad. And in a recent backlash, Pakistan said that India is the biggest loser in Afghanistan in the run-up to the withdrawal of foreign troops.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in a recent interview said as the situation in Afghanistan deteriorates, “the biggest loser would be India, which has invested millions of dollars in Afghanistan and is now at risk.”

Imran Khan reiterated that “Pakistan stood by its position on Afghanistan and that there was no military solution to the conflict and that both sides should continue talks.”

Pakistan’s latest wrench inevitably faced India’s backlash. Indian Foreign Minister Jaishankar pointed fingers at Pakistan, saying “Those who consider themselves winners by inciting war will be the losers of history”.

He said history bears witness to the fact that the people of Afghanistan have a special place in fighting foreign aggression and seeking freedom and democracy.

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