The foreign ministers of Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries on Thursday reiterated their call for national reconciliation in the war-torn country through dialogue and negotiation besides taking steps for ensuring women’s rights and children’s education.
The third foreign ministers’ meeting of Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries was held in Tunxi, Anhui Province in China. The foreign ministers or senior representatives of seven countries, namely China, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, attended the meeting. The participants called for establishing a broad-based and inclusive political structure, adopting moderate and sound domestic and foreign policies, and growing friendly relations with all countries, especially its neighbours.
They also emphasized the necessity for all sides to strengthen dialogue and communication with Afghanistan for the above purposes. The meeting called for further actions to be taken to improve people’s livelihood, safeguard the fundamental rights of all Afghans, including ethnic groups, women and children. Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory message to the meeting. The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivered remarks via video link.
The participants reaffirmed respect for the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of Afghanistan, support for the Afghan people and the basic principle of “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned”. They urged the countries mainly responsible for the current predicament in Afghanistan to earnestly fulfil commitments to the economic recovery and future development of Afghanistan. They said that a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan served the common interests of regional countries and Afghanistan.
The foreign ministers’ meeting reaffirmed opposition to attempts at politicizing humanitarian assistance and reiterated respect and support for the central role of Afghanistan in distributing and using humanitarian assistance. The meeting’s participants expressed deep concern over the humanitarian situation, economic and livelihood plight in Afghanistan and announced readiness to provide further humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.
They appreciated the support for the key role of the UN in providing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, and called on the international community, in particular the UN agencies and relevant members of the UN Security Council, to step up emergency humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan. They expressed readiness to help Afghanistan enhance capacity in health care and COVID-19 containment.
Addressing the meeting, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Thursday called upon the international community to take note of the “perilous” situation in Afghanistan and let humanitarian imperatives take precedence over political considerations. “While there may be valid political concerns, the fundamental need is to focus on humanity as well as the well-being of 40 million Afghan people,” he said. On the lingering question of recognition of the interim Afghan government, he said the issue could not be left unaddressed for much longer.
“It is imperative that the international community, particularly the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan, consider how to move forward on developing consensus on recognition in a phased manner,” he said. He recalled that Pakistan initiated the meeting’s format last year with a clear realization that neighbouring countries had vital stakes, more than any other, in the stability of Afghanistan. He stressed that the frozen Afghan foreign bank reserves belonged to the Afghan nation and their utilization should be the sovereign decision of Afghanistan.
“We will continue to support Afghanistan’s access to its frozen assets so that these precious resources can be utilized for the welfare of the Afghans,” he said. He said the international community had justifiable expectations from the interim government on exclusivity, girls’ education, respect for human rights, and effective counter-terrorism action.