India has accepted an invitation to attend the signing of the peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban in Qatar’s capital Doha on Saturday, PTI reported, citing unidentified government sources. Indian envoy to Qatar P Kumaran will represent the country at the event. This will be the first time India will officially attend an event associated with the Taliban.
The United States was involved in negotiations on and off with the Taliban to bring the conflict in Afghanistan to an end in exchange for withdrawal of its troops and those of its allies. Last week, the United States announced that it had reached an understanding with the Taliban to significantly reduce violence across Afghanistan for a week. Following the success of this measure, a peace deal would be signed, the country had said.
Saturday’s event, hosted by the Qatar government, will be attended by representatives of about 24 countries. India accepted the invite amid its Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla’s visit to Afghanistan, during which he met several top politicians, including the country’s Acting Foreign Minister Haroon Chakhansuri.
“Foreign Secretary conveyed India’s steadfast support for democracy, plurality, national cohesiveness and socio-economic development and enduring peace and stability in Afghanistan,” tweeted Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar. “Foreign Secretary reiterated India’s support for Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace process which results in enduring and inclusive peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.”
Kumar added that Shringla spoke to First Vice President-elect Amrullah Saleh about measures to strengthen bilateral strategic cooperation between the two countries and the peace deal with the Taliban.
India is one of Afghanistan’s closest allies, and has contributed more than $3 billion since the 2001 invasion led by the United States, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, toppled the Taliban regime. It also built the country’s new Parliament. In November 2019, the United States had supported Indian involvement in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan has sent a six-member official delegation that will start the intra-Afghan negotiations with the Taliban following the signing of the peace deal on Saturday. The agreement will face its first test when Kabul begins negotiations with the Taliban on the release of the terrorist group’s members.
Meanwhile, Pakistan is also expected to attend the event on Saturday. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi will represent the country. Qureshi said the invitation was a great honour and served as an acknowledgment of his country’s efforts for peace in Afghanistan, reported India Today on Friday. “The world is appreciating Pakistan’s role in bringing peace to Afghanistan,” the foreign minister said.