India highlights need to strengthen Afghanistan defence forces at SCO contact group meet

India has shared in the just-concluded meeting of SCO-Afghanistan ‘Contact Group’ its perspective on the situation in Afghanistan, including challenges posed by terrorism from beyond its border and the need to strengthen Afghan security forces, the external affairs ministry said on Thursday.

The ministry’s spokesperson Raveesh Kumar also said that India has conveyed its readiness to work closely with the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member states in efforts to bring peace, prosperity and stability in Afghanistan.

“India shared its perspectives on the situation in Afghanistan, including security challenges posed by terrorism imposed from beyond its borders, the need to strengthen Afghan national defence and security forces,” he said.

The Indian side also stressed on the need for an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled national peace and reconciliation in an environment free of terror and violence, continued assistance for socio-economic development based on priorities of the people of Afghanistan, and ensuring greater connectivity and regional integration for Afghanistan, he said.

The Indian delegation was led by secretary (west) in the ministry Ruchi Ghanashyam.

This was the first meeting of the group following the expansion of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in June with India becoming its full member.

The next meeting of the Contact Group will be held in Beijing in early 2018, the ministry said in a statement.

Reacting to recent comments by Pakistan prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi that India has “Zero” role in Afghanistan, the spokesperson said India has a very clear role in that country, and added that it has many development projects in the war-torn country.

Asked about India having a divergent view from China and Russia on engaging Taliban as part of the peace process, he said New Delhi has always maintained that there is no good or bad Taliban.

He also reiterated the country’s position that “red lines” should be adhered.

By: First Post

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