India is alarmed at Russia, China, Pakistan talks on restoring peace in the war-torn Afghanistan.
The Times of India said as Russia, China and Pakistan work towards building a new axis in Afghanistan to accommodate Taliban as a tool against the Islamic Sate terror group, it could have unforeseen consequences for the Russia-India relationship.
The paper pointed out that India is holding on to the "red lines" for integration of Taliban into the Afghan government but that seems to be getting diluted by the new axis, which is less Afghan-led and more Pak-led, putting Pakistan once again in the driver's seat on Afghanistan's future.
Iran, which has been doing its own outreach to Taliban, is equally apprehensive of the fallout of IS cadres relocating to Afghanistan as they get driven out of Syria and Iraq, the Times of India said adding: "This is essentially a return to the good-Taliban, bad-Taliban argument, as everybody wants to do a peace settlement in Afghanistan."
Russia, China and Pakistan issued a joint statement after the third round of trilateral consultations on regional issues between officials from Russia, China and Pakistan held in Moscow on Tuesday. "(The three countries) expressed particular concern about the rising activity in the country of extremist groups, including the Afghan branch of IS," Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova told reporters after the meeting.
The three countries reiterated their support for reconciliation process in Afghanistan. "The participants agreed to continue their efforts towards further facilitating the Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan according to the known principles of reintegration of the armed opposition into peaceful life," the joint statement said.
"The Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China as the UN Security Council permanent members confirmed their flexible approach to delisting Afghan individuals from the UN sanctions lists as their contribution to the efforts aimed at launching peaceful dialogue between Kabul and the Taliban," the statement further noted.
The position on delisting looked to be a snub for Kabul that had last month asked the United Nations to add Taliban's new leader, Maulvi Haibatullah, to its sanctions list.
Representatives from the three countries also agreed to invite the Afghan government to such talks in the future, the Russian foreign ministry said.
The United States, which still has nearly 10,000 troops in Afghanistan more than 15 years after the Taliban were toppled by US-backed Afghan forces, was not invited to the Moscow talks.
The gathering is likely to deepen worries in Washington that it is being sidelined in negotiations over Afghanistan's future, Reuters said adding: Officials in Kabul and Washington have said that Russia is deepening its ties with Taliban militants fighting the government, though Moscow has denied providing aid to the insurgents.
Afghanistan has been angered by efforts by the three countries to work towards some sort of accommodation with the Taliban, the Hindustan Times reported Thursday.
Afghanistan was especially angered as it was excluded from the third round of consultations between Russia, China and Pakistan, and reports the troika would be expanded to include Iran.
The Afghanistan government said on Thursday that the Afghan people alone can decide on removing Taliban leaders from UN sanctions lists, rejecting a call by China, Russia and Pakistan to delist some militants to foster a peace dialogue.
Following a meeting in Moscow on Tuesday, the three countries called for "flexible approaches" on sanctioned persons to promote a "dialogue between Kabul and the Taliban".
"The delisting of Taliban leaders is the right of only the Afghan people. The Afghan people can and will decide on this when we have security," Afghan interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told Hindustan Times.