India to participate in Moscow, Hague meet on Afghanistan

March 18th, 2009 - 8:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban New Delhi, March 18 (IANS) In a sign of its growing stakes in stabilising the violence-torn country, India will join other regional and global players in two important international conferences on Afghanistan in Moscow and the Hague that will be held later this month.
The Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Pakistan Satinder Lambah is likely to represent India at a regional security conference organized by the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Moscow March 27 that will focus on promoting stability in that country.

Iran and Pakistan, who are also observers at the SCO, have also been invited for the meeting.

Russia, which holds the current SCO presidency, has also sent out invitations to Turkey, the Group of Eight nations, the UN, as well as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for what is shaping to be a landmark international conclave on Afghanistan.

The Moscow meet will be followed by another international conference on the future of Afghanistan at The Hague March 31, which will be chaired by the United Nations.

UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon is also expected to attend the meet. Foreign ministers and representatives of international organisations involved in security and reconstruction operations in Afghanistan, including India and Iran, have been invited for this important conference.

The invitations to participate in these conferences underline the increasing appreciation of India’s multi-faceted reconstruction activities in Afghanistan and its crucial role in stabilising the country that has fallen prey to a resurgent Taliban.

India will advocate an integrated approach towards stabilization of Afghanistan, that will include a more prominent role for developmental initiatives besides military and security components in creating a zone of peace, said government sources.

India is not in favour of the speculated US’ strategy of roping in what they call the “good Taliban” to give them a stake in a future power-sharing arrangement in that country. New Delhi believes that there are no good Taliban or bad Taliban and thinks such a move is fraught with serious consequences for stability of the violence-torn country and the region.

The situation in Afghanistan figured prominently in discussions Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon had with top decision-makers in Washington last week.

Menon met Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, National Security Adviser James L. Jones, US Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke and David Petraeus, the head of the US Central Command, and shared his perception of the Indian approach towards the violence-torn country.

The US is carrying out extensive strategic reviews of the situation in Afghanistan-Pakistan region, which is likely to be unveiled at the NATO conference early April.

India has pledged over $1.2 billion in various reconstruction activities in Afghanistan and has vowed to continue this work despite an attack on its Indian mission in Kabul in July last year.

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