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Russia Invites US, China, Pakistan for crucial meet on Afghanistan; India left out

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India has not been invited to a crucial meeting being convened by Russia on the fast-evolving situation in Afghanistan that is expected to see the participation of Pakistan, China and the US, people familiar with the development told news agency Press Trust of India Thursday.

As the Taliban continues its offensive in Afghanistan, Russia has stepped up efforts to reach out to all key stakeholders in the war-torn country to stop the violence and push the Afghan peace process.

The "extended Troika" meeting is scheduled to be held in Qatar on August 11. Talks under the format had earlier taken place on March 18 and April 30.

Russia has also been holding the "Moscow Format" of talks to bring peace and creating conditions for the process of national reconciliation in Afghanistan.

Last month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in Tashkent that Russia will continue to work with India and other countries that can influence the situation in Afghanistan.

Following the comments, there was speculation that India may be included in the upcoming "extended Trioka" meeting. "We will continue working with the Americans in the extended Troika format as well as with all other countries that can influence the situation in Afghanistan, including our partners from Central Asia, India, Iran and the US," he had told reporters. "We have a Moscow format that includes all the main players," Mr Lavrov had said.

Though Russia has differences with the US on various dimensions of the Afghan conflict, both countries are now pushing for the intra-Afghan talks and to put an end to the widespread violence being perpetrated by the Taliban, the PTI said.

India has been a major stakeholder in the peace and stability of Afghanistan. It has already invested nearly USD 3 billion in aid and reconstruction activities in the war-ravaged country.

A look at India's investments in Afghanistan

Afghanistan is vital to India's strategic interests in the region, according to Indian Express.

After a break between 1996 and 2001, when India joined the world in shunning the previous Taliban regime (only Pakistan, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia kept ties), one way New Delhi re-established ties with the country in the two decades after the 9/11 attacks was to pour in development assistance, under the protective umbrella of the US presence.

India built vital roads, dams, electricity-transmission lines and substations, schools and hospitals, etc. India's development assistance is now estimated to be worth well over $3 billion. And unlike in other countries where India's infrastructure projects have barely got off the ground or are mired in the host nation's politics, it has delivered in Afghanistan.

The 2011 India-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement recommitted Indian assistance to help rebuild Afghanistan's infrastructure and institutions; education and technical assistance for capacity-building in many areas; encourage investment in Afghanistan; and provide duty-free access to the Indian market. Bilateral trade is now worth $1 billion.

Speaking at the Afghanistan Conference in Geneva in November 2020, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said "no part of Afghanistan today is untouched by the 400-plus projects that India has undertaken in all 34 of Afghanistan's provinces."

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
 
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