Russian President Vladimir Putin’s special representative on Afghanistan visited India this week for a series of meetings with Indian officials on restoring peace in the war-ravaged country.
Zamir Kabulov’s visit followed US defence secretary Jim Mattis’s trip to India and Afghanistan.
Putin’s envoy has three decades of experience about the region and played a key role in shaping Russia’s policy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan.
He is known for his open position about US troops leaving Afghanistan at the earliest, which doesn’t really gel well with New Delhi’s views from the security standpoint.
Indian officials said the visit was part of continuing consultations on Afghanistan on topics ranging from terrorism, the Islamic State terrorist group and the future of the peace process.
The Islamic State is expanding its footprints in the volatile country, a development that deeply worries Russia.
For New Delhi, the visit came in the context of two developments — the Russians taking a position that the Taliban cannot be defeated with military offensives and Moscow’s growing closeness with Pakistan.
Indian officials said there are common grounds between India and Russia when it comes to peace talks with the Taliban.
“All countries the region agrees that Taliban has to give up violence and peace should be an Afghan-led, Afghan-driven process. The Russians understand that within the Taliban there are influential groups like the Haqqani Network that get constant support from Pakistan,” an official said.
The biggest concern for India is arch-rivals Pakistan influencing the Afghan peace process to push its interests.
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