NSA Ajit Doval meets Afghan peace negotiator Abdullah Abdullah in Delhi
Afghan peace negotiator Abdullah Abdullah on Wednesday discussed his country’s peace process with National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, who told him India is in favour of a democratic and sovereign Afghanistan “where no terrorists can operate”.
Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation in Afghanistan, met Doval on Wednesday evening to brief him on the talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban at Doha in Qatar.
Doval hosted a dinner for Abdullah’s delegation that was attended by foreign secretary Harsh Shringla, Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, army chief Gen MM Naravane, senior officials of the external affairs ministry and key members of the High Council for National Reconciliation.
Abdullah tweeted that he had a “constructive discussion” with Doval on the Afghan peace process and the talks in Doha. “He [Doval] assured me of India’s full support for the peace efforts, and that any peace settlement acceptable to Afghans, will have the support of India,” Abdullah said.
“He [Doval] further stated that his country is in favour [of] an independent, democratic, sovereign & peaceful Afghanistan, where no terrorists can operate,” he added.
Abdullah also thanked India for its continued support for Afghanistan and its “constructive role in peace efforts”.
There was no official word on the meeting from the Indian side.
Abdullah arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday afternoon for a five-day visit, during which he will hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday and external affairs minister S Jaishankar on Friday.
He will also deliver a speech at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) on Thursday.
Before his arrival in India, Abdullah issued a statement that described India as a “strategic partner of Afghanistan”. He said, “Our historical relation with India is very important to us, and the role of India in establishing a lasting peace in Afghanistan and the region is vital. I am visiting India on an official invitation by the government of India to discuss the peace efforts, and the need for regional consensus and support for the Afghan peace process.”
Abdullah’s visit is part of an outreach to key countries in the region for support for the negotiations in Doha. He travelled to India after a three-day visit to Pakistan last week.
In Islamabad, he had met Prime Minister Imran Khan, foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa. Abdullah told the Pakistani leadership that a message about reducing violence and showing greater flexibility in negotiations should be communicated to the Taliban leadership participating in the negotiations in Doha.
India, the region’s largest provider of development aid to Afghanistan, has expressed concern at a recent spike in violence by the Taliban and terror attacks on minorities such as Sikhs. It has said intra-Afghan negotiations must ensure the interests of minorities, women and vulnerable sections of society and reduce violence across Afghanistan and its neighbourhood.
Since 2001, India has undertaken projects worth $3 billion in Afghanistan, including $1 billion pledged in 2016 under the “new development partnership” scheme for five years.