Russia on Wednesday backed the inclusion of India and Iran in the extended troika talks, a Moscow-backed grouping aimed at facilitating the intra-Afghan peace negotiations.

Iran PressAsia: Dmitry Solodov, the Russian Embassy spokesman in New Delhi, said that having Tehran and New Delhi as members of the inter-governmental group would enrich its potential further.

The Extended Troika at present comprises Russia, the US, China, and Pakistan.

“Given the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, the task to shape a relevant regional consensus to support the Intra-Afghan negotiations is becoming even more vital,” said Solodov.

He remarked that Russia’s dedicated cooperation with India as an active participant in dialogue mechanisms on Afghan issues was natural, trusted, and forward-looking.

“Our deep involvement in such established formats, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), including the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure, the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group, and the Moscow format, is very effective and result-oriented,” the Russian official said.

Moscow’s proposal to have Iran and India as members of the organization comes days after Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said at a connectivity summit in Tashkent that the “possibility of including influential external players” in the extended Troika was under discussion.

"Only direct and inclusive inter-Afghan talks with the aid of international partners can establish a lasting peace,” Lavrov said at the plenary session of the international conference on 'Central and South Asia. Regional Interconnectivity: Challenges and Opportunities' on 16 July.

The meeting in Uzbekistan’s capital was attended by Indian foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Iran’s deputy foreign minister for economic diplomacy Sayed Rasool Mohajer.

Jaishankar spoke to his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif on the telephone on Wednesday. The two foreign ministers discussed the “situation in Afghanistan” as well as “regional cooperation” during their talks, sources told Sputnik.

India has consistently backed an Afghan-owned, Afghan-controlled, and Afghan-led peace process, also calling for gains of the past 20 years to be preserved in the war-ravaged nation.

The withdrawal of US-led forces from the country began on 1 May and emboldened the Taliban, whose fighters now claim to control nearly 85 percent of the country’s territory. The outfit also claims to control Afghanistan’s border crossings with Pakistan (at present under dispute after Afghan forces launched an offensive to retake the crossing), Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Iran.