India, Russia warn against terror groups operating from Afghanistan


FILE PHOTO: India's National Security Advisor Ajit Doval speaks during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia May 10, 2018. Maxim Shipenkov/Pool via REUTERS

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India and Russia believe that foreign militant groups operating from Afghanistan pose a threat to central Asia and to India and agreed to deepen anti-terrorism cooperation at a meeting of their national security chiefs on Wednesday, officials said.

The Islamist Taliban swept to victory in Afghanistan last month after two decades of fighting and announced a provisional government that has met with a guarded reception from the international community.

India and Russia were both deeply concerned at the developments in Afghanistan, an Indian government official said, following a meeting between Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrushev and Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval in New Delhi.

The two sides agreed the Taliban must be held to their promises, which included respect for basic human rights, including for women, and not to allow their territory to be used by militants groups.

"There was convergence of views on the presence of international terrorist groups in Afghanistan and threat from terrorism to Central Asia and India," the official said.

India fears that militant groups that operate from Pakistan may also use Afghan territory to orchestrate attacks and says Pakistan should be held responsible because of its close links to the Taliban.

Russia fears turmoil in Afghanistan could spill over into Central Asia, which it regards as its southern defensive flank and as a sphere of influence from which radical Islamist threats could emanate.

Patrushev and Doval discussed the deepening of bilateral security cooperation with a focus on further cooperation on anti-terrorism, combating illegal migration and drug trafficking, Russia's Security Council said in a statement.

India and Russia have long been close military partners but in recent years New Delhi has turned to the United States for weapons supplies and forged closed political ties.

But the Indian government official said the regional situation had changed dramatically following the withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan and the capture of power by the Taliban.

(Reporting by Sanjeev Miglani, additional reporting by Tom Balmforth in Moscow; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Alex Richardson)

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