Russia’s President To Visit India Soon To Discuss Afghanistan Security Situation

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov could visit India soon to discuss the Afghan security situation.

Even as India remains sceptical about Russia’s outreach to Afghan Taliban and Pakistan, it is discussing with Moscow a proposal for a visit to New Delhi by Kabulov next month.

According to government sources, the visit was proposed by Russia in a sign that it’s looking to not just address some of India’s concerns but also involve it more in the ongoing peace process in Afghanistan.

The discussions follow the joint and successful efforts by both countries to convince China to drop its opposition to naming Pakistan based terror groups like LeT and JeM in the Xiamen Brics summit declaration. This has led to hopes here, and also in Moscow, that China might just also agree to give up its “technical hold” on the proposed ban on JeM chief Masood Azhar by the UNSC 1267 sanctions committee.

While Russia has serious differences with the US over the latter’s new Afghanistan policy, which was outlined recently by President Donald Trump, it remains keen to work with India in breaking what it describes as a stalemate between the Taliban and the government in Kabul which now controls no more than 57 per cent of Afghanistan territory.

However, it’s a fact that Russia’s interests in Afghanistan no longer converge with India’s as they did in the past. For Russia, as Kabulov said last year, ISIS is a much more potent threat to security in the region than the Taliban. Kabulov, who is seen as shaping Russia’s strategic outreach to both Pakistan and Afghan Taliban, believes that Islamabad is a key player in the fight against terrorism and, as he said after Trump’s announcement of the new Afghanistan policy, putting too much pressure on Islamabad was going to prove counter-productive. Kabulov was in India last year for the Heart of Asia conference where he said that combating terrorism was not going to be possible with Pakistan’s cooperation.

Russia recently proposed talks with the US on Afghanistan but that proposal was rejected by Washington, media reports said earlier this month. US has accused Moscow of supplying military aid to the Taliban. This though was vehemently denied by Kabulov who said that Washington was only trying to divert international attention from the “numerous errors” made by the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

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