Russia hosts SCO’s Afghanistan Contact Group meeting

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KABUL (TCA) — On October 11 in Moscow, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Afghanistan Contact Group. Such meetings have been resumed after a seven-year pause, Afghanistan’s TOLOnews reported.

The meeting was attended by the SCO member states — India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan — at the deputy foreign ministerial level. As SCO observer state, the Afghan delegation was led by Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai.

In their last summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, in June, SCO member states decided to re-launch the Afghanistan Contact Group meetings as a consultative process to support Afghanistan in the fight against terrorism, drugs, and criminality, as well as helping the country with its sustainable development process within the SCO’s economic cooperation framework.

According to a statement issued by the Afghan ministry of foreign affairs, Karzai outlined five specific ways as to how the Contact Group could engage with and support Afghanistan based on mutual issues of concern and interest.

First, Karzai asked the SCO member states to grant Afghanistan permanent co-chairmanship of future Contact Group meetings, since the Group’s primary goal is to enhance cooperation with the country and to help address the challenges that confront Afghanistan and the region.

Most countries agreed with the proposal for consideration before the next meeting.

Second, he renewed Afghanistan’s interest in acquiring full SCO membership, which was unanimously supported for consideration.

Third, he highlighted terrorism as a key common security threat, which he asked the SCO to join Afghanistan in fighting and defeating.

Fourth, he discussed the importance of peace and reconciliation based on the Afghan leadership and ownership, calling on the SCO member states to use their leverage and influence over militant groups and to bring them to negotiation table for results-driven peace talks.

Finally, he noted the important role of the SCO in helping Afghanistan achieve its economic potential, as well as its integration with the SCO economies through increased trade, transit, and investment.

China offered to host the next meeting of the Contact Group in early 2018.

Sergey Kwan

TCA