NEW DELHI: India on Wednesday welcomed the announcement of a 21-member team by the Afghan government for talks with the Taliban.
Describing the development as a “positive step", an Indian foreign ministry statement said the intra-Afghan talks would “lead to a peaceful and stable future for Afghanistan free from the scourge of externally sponsored terrorism".
“India has consistently supported an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled process for enduring peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. In this context, we view the formation of the team as a positive step which would lead to a peaceful and stable future for Afghanistan free from the scourge of externally sponsored terrorism," the statement said.
“We also call upon all sections of the political spectrum to work together to ensure meet the aspirations of all people of Afghanistan, including those from the minority community, for a prosperous and safe future," it added.
The team, announced late on Thursday by the Afghanistan’s Ministry of Peace, is headed by Masoom Stanekzai, a former chief of the National Directorate of Security and supporter of President Ashraf Ghani, and includes politicians, former officials and representatives of civil society. Five members in the team are women.
Intra-Afghan talks are the second step in a process that will enable the US to reduce its footprint in Afghanistan after a more than 19-year stay. It is part of an agreement arrived at between the US and the Taliban and signed on 29 February.