Didn’t seek India’s engagement in Afghanistan against Taliban: Abdullah

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KABUL: Abdullah Abdullah, who is on a five-day visit to India, on Saturday assured that his discussions with the Indian leadership were peace-centric and that he didn’t ask for the country’s direct engagement in Afghanistan for tackling the Taliban.


Last Tuesday, Abdullah left for India to discuss the Afghan peace process and mutual ties with top Indian officials.


In an exclusive interview with ANI, an Indian news agency, Abdullah said that different countries played different roles in Afghanistan and India’s role was also appreciated.


“The topic of discussion was around peace in what was going on in the negotiations and what different countries can do. India as an important country which has helped Afghanistan through many years has a lot at stake in peaceful Afghanistan,” he said.


The continuation of the war was an adverse impact, said Abdullah, adding that it depended on the Indian government whether it wanted to engage with the Taliban or not.


“I did not ask directly for engagement with the Taliban but at the same time, I encouraged in the peace process as a whole in general,” he said.


When asked whether he discussed any possible military role of India in Afghanistan with Indian officials, he said, “No. Absolutely not. I did not raise that idea. The point is that we hope that Afghanistan will be able to stand on its own feet. As you know that US troops are the main part of it. They have withdrawn from Afghanistan. Still, they are present there but that will not be forever.”


When asked whether Afghanistan wants India to engage with the Taliban, he said: “It depends on the Indian government’s decision. But as a whole India is supportive of the peace process which is important.”


About his interactions with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said that India supported Afghan-led negotiation and a settlement acceptable to all Afghans.


Abdullah is expected to return to Kabul today. Before visiting India, he had also traveled to Pakistan and discussed the Afghan peace process with the neighboring country.