Russia summit: India seeks to rein in Pak based terror groups for Afghanistan peace

Russia summit: India seeks to rein in Pak based terror groups for Afghanistan peace
© Provided by The Times of India

China is learnt to have prevented a specific mention of Pakistan-based terror groups like LeT and JeM in the RUSSIA-India-China (RIC) joint communique last week but India is hoping to make up for it with an unequivocal condemnation of these UNSC proscribed groups in the summit and the first ever 2+2 dialogue with Russia on Monday.

Ahead of President Vladimir Putin’s arrival, India is working with Russia to ensure a categorical assertion of the need to eliminate India-focused terror groups for enduring peace in Afghanistan, official sources said while adding that Moscow remained sensitive to India’s concerns on terrorism.

Putin will have his annual summit meeting with PM Narendra Modi on Monday evening after the 2+2 that will see foreign minister S Jaishankar and defence minister Rajnath Singh holding wide-ranging talks with their counterparts, Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Shoigu respectively. While Putin is not expected to spend more than 6 hours in India, the visit is still seen as significant as this will be only the second time that Putin will leave Russia since the Covid-19 outbreak. According to Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov, 10 bilateral agreements are likely to be signed during the visit.

The Afghanistan situation will figure in the summit with discussions likely also on China. Official sources said that while RIC was a trilateral engagement, they expected the need to call out Pakistan based terror groups will figure unambiguously in joint documents with Russia.

The joint communique issued after the 18th RIC virtual meeting had left out LeT and JeM even as it stressed the necessity of urgent elimination of UNSC proscribed terrorist groups such as al-Qaida, ISIL and others for lasting peace in Afghanistan and the region. It is learnt that India also, in turn, ensured there was no mention of East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), the Uyghur extremist group accused of fanning separatism in China’s Xinjiang province. India also insisted on mentioning that those financing terrorism are held accountable in keeping with, among other things, FATF standards.

In a tweet, immediately after the RIC meeting, foreign minister S Jaishankar asserted Afghan territory must not be used for terror activities by terrorist groups like LeT and JeM and that global expectations of Afghanistan were articulated by UNSC resolution 2593 passed under India’s presidency earlier this year. India has in the past accused China of employing double standards in dealing with terrorism perpetrated by UNSC proscribed individuals and groups.

Ahead of the Putin visit, government sources also said any Russia-Ukraine conflagration was unlikely to affect India’s ties with Moscow. While admitting that Moscow continues to nurse serious reservations about the Indo-Pacific and Quad initiatives, sources said India was already working with Russia in the region as evident from the ongoing work on the Chennai-Vladivostok corridor and that both countries believed in ASEAN centrality. On S-400, without elaborating on the delivery timeline, government sources said India’s defence acquisitions will continue to be guided by strategic autonomy and security interests.

TASS news agency quoted Ushakov as saying Putin will arrive in India in late afternoon Moscow time, head straight to the meeting venue and return to Russia immediately after the talks end. Official sources here said the president will also attend a dinner before his departure.

Describing the Afghanistan situation as a common concern, Russian ambassador Nikolay Kudashev said Saturday the 2 leaders were expected to reaffirm their commitment for a peaceful Afghanistan. “Several priorities like inclusive government, fighting terror and drugs, humanitarian assistance and securing lives. One could also expect a sizeable amount of agreements and memoranda,” Kudashev was quoted as saying by a news agency.

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