US rules out including India, Iran in Afghan peace bid
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): The United States has ruled out involving India, Iran and any other country in the Afghan peace process until actual negotiations with the Taliban kick off.
“With regard to the quadrilateral there clearly is a role at some point for other countries in the region,” Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Olson said as he essentially ruled out involving India and Iran in the ongoing Taliban peace efforts through the four-way talks involving the US, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“There are number of other fora like the Heart of Asia Process which could at appropriate time facilitate reconciliation, but for the moment the challenge is to get the negotiations going,” he said at the Atlantic Council early this week.
Olson was responding to a question on why Afghanistan’s two important neighbors India and Iran have not been included in the peace process with the Taliban.
“Because India and Iran has much more stake in Afghanistan than China,” said T Kumar of Amnesty International in a question to the top American diplomat.
“Quadrilateral offer the modalities that brought together some of the most internally involved players. Once we have the negotiations going, that would be the time to talk with other countries,” Olson said.
“The United States and other members of the quartet would be prepared to enter into negotiations without any preconditions. That offer is sincerely extended,” he said.
Cautious about internal dynamics of the Taliban, Olson said it appears that the Taliban have consolidated its leadership quickly under Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada.
To another question on including Central Asian countries, Olson reiterated that there were other forums like the Heart of Asia process that could address questions of reconciliation. “Why are they not involved in the process,” he was asked.
“For the moment the challenge is to get the negotiations going. Once we have the negotiations going that would be the time to talk about other global supporters,” he said.
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