Taliban Qatar office: India draws line on Afghan peace process

With Afghanistan angry at the US on their support for the Taliban office in Qatar, India on Friday said the reconciliation process should not undermine the legitimate Afghan government or confer legitimacy to insurgent groups. New Delhi said the move should not give the impression that there are two competing state authorities in Afghanistan.

The sharp reaction from the Ministry of External Affairs came two days before the US Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to reach India and hold his first bilateral talks with External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid. He will be visiting Qatar, before he comes to Delhi on Sunday.

"The reconciliation process should not seek to create equivalence between an internationally recognised Afghan government and insurgent groups, confer legitimacy to insurgent groups or convey the impression of two competing state authorities for Afghanistan," MEA spokes-person Syed Akbaruddin said.

He said this "could undermine the legitimate Afghan state, Afghan government and the political, social and economic progress witnessed in Afghanistan over the past decade, to which the international community itself has contributed in great measure".

His response came at a time when Afghan President Hamid Karzai cancelled a proposed security dialogue with the US, upset over the name of the Taliban office. When the Qatar office opened on Tuesday, it used the title of their 1996-2001 government, the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" and flew the white Taliban flag.

"These statements reflect some confusion about the name of the Qatar office, its structure, its political and legal status, and its objectives," he said, adding the reaction of the Afghan government to these developments were also noted.

"Our position is clear. Government of India has always called for a broad-based Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled reconciliation process, within the framework of the Afghan Constitution and the internationally accepted red lines," he said.

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