On July 14, 2021 local time, a meeting of foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)-Afghanistan contact group was held in Dushanbe. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended the meeting.
Wang Yi said at the meeting, due to the hasty withdrawal of the U.S. and NATO troops, Afghanistan is once again faced with the grave challenge of moving toward war or peace, chaos or stability. The SCO member states are friendly neighbors of Afghanistan, and Afghanistan is an important member of the SCO family. The situation in Afghanistan not only concerns the fundamental interests of the Afghan people, but also bears directly on the overall security and development of the region. The SCO should build consensus and pool efforts to push the Afghan situation to move in the direction that serves the common interests of Afghanistan and other countries in the region. In this regard, Wang Yi put forward five proposals:
The first is to prevent the United States from shirking its responsibility. As the initiator of the Afghan issue, the United States cannot simply walk away, create more problems for the Afghan government and dump the “burden” on regional countries. Since the United States has recently expressed the willingness to help Afghanistan safeguard stability and reconstruct in peace, all parties should urge the United States to honor its commitment and increase its input, and in particular, be vigilant against any attempt to undermine regional security and stability through the chaos in Afghanistan.
The second is to prevent the resurgence of terrorist forces. Afghanistan should never again become a source of terrorism or a gathering place of terrorist forces. The SCO should give full play to the function and role of regional anti-terrorism institutions, and make every effort to prevent the “three forces” of terrorism, separatism and extremism from infiltrating and spreading into the surrounding areas of Afghanistan. The SCO should step up counter-terrorism cooperation with Afghanistan and urge the Taliban to honor its commitment to break with international terrorist organizations.
The third is to work together to boost the reconciliation process. The more severe the situation is, the stronger confidence we must have. In line with the principle of “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned”, the SCO should continue to urge all Afghan factions to show flexibility, seek common ground while reserving differences, and realize national reconciliation at an early date. The SCO member states should leverage their respective advantages to make joint efforts for mediation, and urge all Afghan factions to clarify the road map and timetable for reconciliation, so as to lay a solid foundation for a broad, inclusive political structure in Afghanistan.
The fourth is to actively strengthen multilateral coordination. The SCO should actively take part in meetings of multilateral mechanisms on Afghanistan and contribute to the resolving of practical issues. The SCO should earnestly safeguard Afghanistan’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, so that the Afghan people can take control of their own destinies and become true masters of their country. The SCO should support Afghanistan in becoming an independent, autonomous and neutral country, in pursuing a moderate Muslim policy in the future, and in continuing to fight all forms of terrorism and getting along well with all neighboring countries.
The fifth is to continue to contribute to peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan. The SCO should make active use of existing cooperation mechanisms in economy, trade, culture and other fields to support Afghanistan in enhancing its capacity for independent development and achieving genuine and sustainable development. The SCO should support Afghanistan’s integration into regional economic development, and deepen public health cooperation to back Afghanistan’s effective fight against COVID-19.
Wang Yi said, based on full respect for the sovereignty of Afghanistan and following the “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned” principle, China will continue to bridge all stakeholders for mediation and conciliation, provide assistance and contribute wisdom, and play a constructive role in promoting the political settlement of the Afghan issue. We are also willing to hold intra-Afghan talks in China in due course.
In their speeches, other foreign ministers raised concerns about the chaotic situation in Afghanistan due to the U.S. withdrawal, and all were wary of the resurgence of international terrorist forces in the country. All parties call for firmly advancing the political settlement process of the Afghan issue, and voicing their support for Afghanistan to restore peace, develop economy, and combat terrorism and the “three forces”, for the establishment of an inclusive political structure in Afghanistan, and for the SCO to play a key role in achieving peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. All parties are committed to strengthening coordination and cooperation at the regional and international levels for lasting peace and sustainable development in Afghanistan.
The meeting was held by Tajikistan and attended by the SCO member states, the SCO Secretary-General and the Director of the Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure of the SCO. Afghan Foreign Minister attended the meeting specially to provide updates on the situation in Afghanistan. The meeting adopted the Joint Statement of Foreign Ministers of SCO Member States on the Results of the Meeting in the Format of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group.