India, Russia for permanent bilateral channel over Afghanistan

In an important development, India and Russia have agreed to form a “permanent bilateral channel” for consultations on Afghanistan. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday backed coordinated efforts to establish peace and stability in Afghanistan in order to ensure security across the region. This followed an extensive 45-minute conversation between Modi and Putin and the call between the two leaders marked the first major outreach on Afghanistan from the top Russian leadership in recent months.

The announcement of the bilateral channel has been the most visible practical cooperation between India & any of its allies on Afghanistan in the aftermath of the fall of Kabul to the Taliban since 15th August. The two leaders expressed their determination to increase cooperation in opposing the spread of terrorist ideology and the drugs threat emanating from Afghan territory, said the Kremlin’s readout of the talks. While exchanging opinions on Afghanistan, they noted the importance of concerted efforts, which would help establish peace and stability in the country and ensure security in the region in general. It is in this respect that Putin and PM Modi agreed to establish a two-way channel for permanent consultations on the issue.

During Modi-Putin talks, both sides agreed to cooperate on counter-terror and drug threats “emanating from the territory of Afghanistan”, a Russian readout of talks said. They also “noted the importance of coordinated efforts” which would “contribute to the establishment of peace and stability in this country, ensuring security in the region as a whole”. PM Modi also expressed gratitude to Vladimir Putin for assistance in combating the spread of the COVID-19 infection, including supply and production of the Russian vaccine in India, as well as shipment of the necessary medicines and medical equipment.