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Peace talks with Taliban welcome as long as there are no preconditions: Indian army chief

Updated January 09, 2019

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Indian Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat says peace in Afghanistan was in the interest of India, Pakistan and the region. — Photo courtesy The Hindu
Indian Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat says peace in Afghanistan was in the interest of India, Pakistan and the region. — Photo courtesy The Hindu

Indian Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat welcomed peace talks with the Afghan Taliban as long as they did not have any "preconditions" attached to them, The Hindu reported on Wednesday.

Rawat was speaking at the Raisina Dialogue — an annual multilateral conference arranged in New Delhi jointly by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and the Observer Research Foundation, a think tank in India.

"Yes, there should be talks with Taliban as long as they do not come out with any preconditions, and so long as they are looking at lasting peace in Afghanistan and bring stability in that country," he explained.

Rawat admitted that peace in Afghanistan was "in [India's] interest, in the region's interest and in Pakistan's interest" but added: "When you start attaching preconditions, it gives a sense of a notional victory that one or the other side is talking from a position of strength."

He claimed that Pakistan treated Afghanistan as its "backyard" and was therefore striving to reach a solution to the Afghan conflict that would suit itself.

Pakistan has been working closely with Kabul and Washington to reach a political settlement to the Afghan conflict. The government has facilitated talks between the Taliban and US officials, and Pakistani leadership has reiterated its resolve to reach a peaceful solution to the 17-year-long war.