India distances itself from Russia’s Taliban comment

New Delhi, Dec 15 (IANS) India on Thursday distanced itself from a reported comment of Russia’s Ambassador to Afghanistan that his country and Taliban shared interests in fighting the Islamic State terror outfit.

“We do not comment on relationship between third countries,” Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Vikas Swaroop told reporters here.

Russia’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Alexander Mantytskiy told the Afghan Parliament over the weekend that Zamir Kabulov, a high ranking official in Russia’s Foreign Ministry, has said that “our interests are the same as Taliban in fighting” the Islamic State.

Commenting on apprehensions that it might lead to complications in India’s relations with Russia, Swarup said ties between the two nations are a “special and privileged partnership” which was reinforced by the recent visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Goa in October.

“We do not see any downward trend in our bilateral relationship,” he said.

The spokesperson, however, said as far as the Taliban is concerned, “they have to respect the internationally agreed red lines, give up terrorism and violence, sever all ties with Al Qaeda, agree to follow democratic norms and not do anything which will erode the gains of the last 15 years.”

“Ultimately it is for the government of Afghanistan to decide whom to talk to and how,” he said on whether the Afghanistan regime should talk to the Taliban.