Terrorism main threat to Afghanistan peace: Khurshid

Brunei, July 2 (IANS) India said Tuesday that terrorism poses the main threat to peace and stability in Afghanistan, and securing it is in the interest of all ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) countries and the international community.

Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, at the 20th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) meeting in Brunei Darussalam, said there was “need for joint and concerted efforts to dismantle terrorist sanctuaries and safe havens beyond Afghan borders and disrupt all financial and tactical support for terrorism”.

“We must assist Afghanistan in its efforts to become a stable, democratic and pluralistic state,” he stressed.

He said India “supports the efforts made by the Afghan government to establish a peaceful dialogue with all armed opposition groups”.

“But this process must be a broad based Afghan-led, Afghan-owned reconciliation process, within the framework of the Afghan Constitution and internationally accepted red lines. This dialogue must involve all sections of the Afghan society and armed opposition groups, including the Taliban,” said Khurshid.

The US has invited the Taliban to participate in peace talks in Qatar. Afghan President Hamid Karzai, after initially refusing, has agreed to participate in the talks, provided the insurgent group abides by laid down conditions.

Khurshid also said the reconciliation process “must not undermine the legitimacy of the Afghan state and government and the political, social and economic progress witnessed in Afghanistan over the past decade, to which members of the international community have contributed in great measure.”

“I may emphasise here that India’s Afghanistan policy does not have an exit policy. India has played an important role in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Afghanistan.”

Khurshid proposed that the 27 members of the ARF community should enhance cooperation by pooling their information and resources, “not only to prevent terrorist attacks but also to apprehend and bring terrorists to justice and so demonstrate our commitment to combat terror”.

He also voiced India’s deep concern over the clandestine proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction technologies and stressed on the safety and security of sea lanes of communication.

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