The neighbouring states of Afghanistan have reaffirmed their commitment to the development of the country “as a peaceful, united, sovereign and independent state, free from the threats of terrorism and drug trafficking”.
However, in their “Samarkand Declaration”—issued after the fourth meeting of the foreign ministers of China, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, held on April 13 in Samarkand, Uzbekistan—the “parties noted that the terrorism-related security situation in Afghanistan was still severe.
They added that they took note of the initiative of Tajikistan on creating a “security belt” around Afghanistan and Uzbekistan’s initiative to create an international negotiation group on Afghanistan under the auspices of the UN and “look forward to receiving comprehensive concept notes from the initiators”.
The declaration added that the parties observed the importance of building an inclusive and broad-based governance system in Afghanistan that reflects the interests of all segments of Afghan society. As things stand, Afghanistan’s government is entirely controlled by the Taliban militant fundamentalist Islamist group that established its second ruling regime in the country following the exit made from Afghanistan by the armed forces of the US and its allies in August 2021. Iran and Tajikistan, which have a particular interest in the well-being of the Persian-speaking ethnic minorities of Afghanistan, are among countries pressing for the representation of all minorities in the Afghan government.
The Taliban government has won no international recognition and at the same time is opposed by the many terrorist groups established in Afghanistan.
The declaration said that the “Parties pointed out that all terrorist groups, namely the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Al-Qaeda, the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), Jundallah, Jaish al-Adl, Jamaat Ansarullah, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), and other terrorist organizations based in Afghanistan continue to pose a serious threat to regional and global security”.
They also stressed the importance of combatting the drug threat posed by traffickers based in and around Afghanistan and called for support for the development of drug crop substitution programmes, as well as for combatting drug production and trafficking.
In further principles outlined by the declaration, the “Parties emphasized the necessity for the international community to maintain dialogue and communication with Afghanistan and called for further measures to improve the living conditions of the people and expressed confidence that the Afghan authorities will respect fundamental human rights, including the rights of all ethnic groups, women and children, and will provide every citizen of Afghanistan with equal rights to participate in the socio-political, economic and cultural life of the country.
“The parties noted the relevance of coordinating regional and international efforts to ensure security and stability in the region, emphasizing the positive contribution of existing regional forums, including the Tashkent International Conference "Afghanistan: Security and Economic Development" and the Moscow Format Consultations on Afghanistan.”
The parties also expressed their deep concern about the humanitarian situation and the poor economic situation in Afghanistan, declaring their readiness to continue providing humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people and providing support for the economic reconstruction of the country.
The parties also noted the key role of the United Nations in providing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, calling on the international community to intensify emergency humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.
Also noted in the declaration was “the fundamental significance of major international energy, transport, communication, infrastructure and other projects implemented by neighboring countries for socio-economic development of Afghanistan and its active integration into the world economy”.
The parties urged “the countries mainly responsible for the current predicament in Afghanistan to earnestly fulfill commitments on the economic recovery and future development of Afghanistan”.
A fifth meeting of the foreign ministers of Afghanistan’s neighbours is to be held in Turkmen capital Ashgabat in 2024, or at an earlier date, if required, the parties said.
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