India warns Russia, Iran; says Taliban has to abandon terrorism
India warned Russia and Iran that politically engaged Taliban to change the ground situation in Afghanistan. MEA spokesperson Vikas Swaroop said as far as Taliban is concerned, "they have to respect the internationally agreed red lines." He added they need to sever ties with al-Qaeda, give up violence and terrorism, and do nothing that would erode the gains of the past 15 years.
Russian Ambassador stuns Afghanistan
Russian ambassador to Afghanistan Alexander Mantytskiy last week stunned Afghan Upper House by quoting a high-ranking official in the Russian foreign ministry, Zamir Kabulov that the interests of Taliban and Russia are the same, in fighting Daesh or ISIS. He added Russia regards Taliban as a "national military-political movement," but ISIS is a global jihadist movement that could destabilize Russia's 'near abroad', central Asia.
Zamir Kabulov's statement, a few weeks ago
Interestingly, Zamir Kabulov was earlier quoted as saying, "The IS Afghan wing poses a great threat to us. That is dangerous for us because they are really global jihadists, that is the same as al-Qaeda was at the beginning of its way in Afghanistan."
Afghanistan seeks India's intervention
Following Russian Ambassador's statement, Afghanistan asked Russia to respect the state to state relations. Russia's new stance on the Taliban would be problematic for Afghanistan, India, and also the US. Reportedly, Afghan officials had talks with India regarding the changing stand of Russia. Afghan Ambassador to India, Shaida Abdali said, "We want India to speak to Russia to clarify where it stands."
Iran also reaches out to Taliban: Reports
According to reports, Iran also was reaching out to Taliban, with the aim of keeping out ISIS of the region. An Iranian news agency stated that an "influential" Iranian cleric had declared that Tehran invited moderate figures like Taliban to attend a conference on global Islam Unity. The agency also revealed, "Iran has always held contacts with some parties in the Taliban movement."
Iran denies ties with Taliban
Though Iran denied any ties with the Taliban, Afghanistan's officials recently accused the country of not only "harboring" the families of top Taliban commanders but also supplying the group with sophisticated weapons that are destabilizing their country.
No downward trend in Indo-Russian relationship
It is an unusual warning from India aimed at Russia - its oldest strategic partner. Though India has always treated Russia "with kid gloves," it now feels Russia's recent moves in Afghanistan could stir serious trouble. Vikas Swaroop, however, stressed the special relationship shared by India and Russia. He said, "We do not see any downward trend in our bilateral relationship."
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swaroop's statement
Vikas Swaroop stated: "We do not comment on the relationship between third countries. We do not see any downward trend in our (India and Russia) bilateral relationship. Ultimately it is for the government of Afghanistan to decide whom to talk to and how."