India, Russia support Afghan peace process

Moscow: India and Russia on Friday extended their support to Afghanistan in its quest to establish a democratic state free from terrorism, outside interference, as they backed Kabul's overtures for dialogue with "armed opposition".

An Indo-Russian joint statement issued after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's talks with Russian leadership said, "Both the countries expressed concern over escalation of extremist activity throughout the territory of the country, including previously relatively peaceful provinces, drug production growth, and unresolved socio-economic problems."

"The sides expressed their readiness to continue promoting the establishment of Afghanistan as a peaceful, democratic and independent state, free from terrorism, outside interference and drug-related crimes, with a sustainable economy," it said.

Supporting the transfer of responsibility for the situation in the country to the National Security Forces, the sides urge to intensify efforts to build up their capacity.

The sides believe that the international military presence in Afghanistan should be linked to the security situation on the ground. Afghanistan has stepped up efforts to engage with Taliban amid reports that authorities are giving a nod for the establishment of an office by the insurgent group in a Muslim country.

"India and the Russian Federation support the efforts taken by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to establish a peaceful dialogue with the armed opposition, provided that the process goes on under the Afghan leadership and that the fighters meet the redlines enunciated by the international community: the recognition of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, renunciation of violence and breaking with al-Qaeda and other terrorist organisations," the statement said.

They consider it necessary to continue the UN Security Council sanctions regime as an essential anti-terror tool.

"The sides noted with satisfaction the growing global understanding of the important role played by the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan neighbouring states, states and organisations of the region, and urge to focus the efforts in the region on the development and improvement of sound structures of regional cooperation, like the SCO and SAARC amongst others

They expect that the international community in their efforts in this regard will respect the decisions taken by the countries of the region in the framework of these organisations," the statement said.