Russia has invited India for the first time to the Russia-US-China Troika Plus meet on Afghanistan that will discuss, among other issues, the role of Taliban and the future of the landlocked country. Besides India, Iran has also been invited for the meeting, ET has reliably gathered. Pakistan and representatives from Kabul are also expected to be part of the meet.

The meeting is expected to be held in the near future as Moscow is trying to form a regional consensus on the future of Afghanistan, persons familiar with the Troika meet explained to ET. The decision to invite India for this meet was indicated at the South Central Asia connectivity meet at Tashkent last week.

This proposed meeting follows Foreign Minister S Jaishankar’s recent visits to Moscow, Tehran and Central Asia where the Afghan issue dominated the agenda of his meetings. At the SCO meet in Dushanbe last week, Jaishankar advised the Taliban to abide by the Moscow format and Doha and Istanbul processes. Earlier, in Moscow, Jaishankar noted that the basis for the India-Russia-Iran partnership on the lines of that followed in the mid-1990s still remain valid as he asserted that the legitimacy of who ruled Afghanistan cannot be ignored.

India was not present at the last Troika Plus meet in Moscow in March even as Russia kept India posted on the meet. Pakistan, however, participated in the meet held before the US decision to withdraw from the Afghan theatre. Russia has been holding the Moscow format talks on Afghanistan. India has been invited for this format of talks that involved Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, and Iran.

Russia remains a key player to address the impasse in Afghanistan amid the Taliban surge and has deep interests in the stability of the landlocked country as any spread of terror and extremism impacts Central Asian states with the possibility of spill over into the Russian Caucus region.

Aimed at sending a strong message against any spill over of extremism into the former Soviet space, Russia launched a trilateral military exercise in Central Asia this week comprising military ally Tajikistan and key partner Uzbekistan, which share borders with Afghanistan. Besides this, CSTO has also been activated to address any security challenges in Eurasia.