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Afghanistan’s Chief Peace Negotiator Abdullah Abdullah met PM Narendra Modi in the National Capital

New Delhi: Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation in Afghanistan, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his official residence to brief him on the peace process and the talks currently being held by the Afghan government and the Taliban at Doha in Qatar. PM assured him of India’s continued support for the peace process.

Before arriving in India, Abdullah said in a statement that India is a “strategic partner of Afghanistan”. He added “the role of India in establishing a lasting peace in Afghanistan and the region is vital”, and that he would discuss the need for regional consensus and support for the Afghan peace process with the Indian leadership.

“Pleased to meet HE Narendra Modi @narendramodi, the Prime Minister of Republic of #India. In our friendly discussion we took stock of the latest developments on the #AfghanPeaceProcess, the talks in Doha, & India’s support for the peace efforts,” Abdullah tweeted.

“HE PM assured me of India’s continued support for the peace process, & Afghanistan. I thanked him & the people of India for the invitation, & generous hospitality. I also thanked India for its principled position on the #AfghanPeaceProcess,” he added in another tweet.

Abdullah met National Security Advisor (NSA) AjitDoval on Wednesday. The talks between Doval and Abdullah were “constructive” and the Indian NSA assured him of that New Delhi is in favour of a “democratic and sovereign Afghanistan, where no terrorists can operate”.Doval also hosted a dinner for Abdullah’s delegation that was attended by Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Army Chief General Manoj MukundNaravane, senior officials of the External Affairs Ministry and key members of the High Council for National Reconciliation.

Notably, Abdullah is visiting India at a time when peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha are going on.He arrived in India on October 6 on a five-day visit in an attempt to build a regional consensus and support for the Afghan peace process, the negotiations in Doha. He travelled to New Delhi after a three-day visit to Islamabad 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.

He is also scheduled to deliver a speech at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) and hold talks with external affairs minister S Jaishankar on Friday.Last month, another influential Afghan leader Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum had visited India.

India has been a major stakeholder in peace and stability of Afghanistan. It has already invested USD two billion in aid and reconstruction activities in the country.India has been supporting a national peace and reconciliation process which is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.

On September 12, an Indian delegation attended the inaugural ceremony of the intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha while Jaishankar joined it through video conference.

India has been keenly following the evolving political situation after the US signed a peace deal with the Taliban in February. The deal provided for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, effectively drawing curtains to Washington’s 18-year war in the country.The US has lost over 2,400 soldiers in Afghanistan since late 2001.

Indiahas expressed concern at a recent spike in violence by the Taliban and terror attacks on minorities such as Sikhs. It has said that intra-Afghan negotiations must ensure the interests of minorities, women and vulnerable sections of society and reduce violence across Afghanistan and its neighbourhood for a prosperous and safe future. India has always been advocating for the political establishment of Afghanistan to unite together and work for the betterment of the country and its people.India has also been maintaining that care should be taken to ensure that any such process does not lead to any “ungoverned spaces” where terrorists and their proxies can relocate.

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