Tehran meeting: A roadmap for prosperous Afghanistan

October 27, 2021 - 21:44

TEHRAN – Foreign ministers of Afghanistan’s neighbors and Russia concluded the second meeting on Afghanistan, underlining the need for an inclusive government in the war-torn country that would protect the rights of all ethnoreligious groups.

The neighboring countries of Afghanistan have succeeded in building a consensus on how to deal with the unrecognized authorities of the country. After months-long diplomatic back-and-forth in the wake of the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul in August, these countries issued a statement that more or less met the demands of all the concerned parties. 

The foreign ministers of Iran, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, along with Russia, approved a ministerial joint statement that addressed a range of issues of much interest to all the participants of the Tehran gathering, formally known as the “Meeting of Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan’s Neighboring Countries + Russia.”

The meeting was held in continuation of another meeting held in Pakistan in early September. During the Pakistan meeting, the participants agreed to hold the next meeting in Tehran. 

In the meantime, a series of diplomatic efforts were done by Pakistan and Russia regarding Afghanistan. Russia hosted a meeting on Afghanistan with the presence of the Taliban while Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmoud Qureshi traveled to Kabul for the first time since the Taliban’s takeover. 

Russia said it was moving in the direction of recognizing the Taliban as the legitimate power of Afghanistan and demanded a greater role by the UN in regard to Afghanistan. 

Pakistan made efforts to get international humanitarian aid flowing into Afghanistan. It warned of a humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan and sought to convince the international community that humanitarian aid to Afghanistan should be subject to recognition of the Taliban.

Meanwhile, a series of suspicious attacks targeting Shia mosques in north and south of Afghanistan set off alarm bells in Tehran. Two attacks on Shia worshippers during Friday prayers in Kunduz and Kandahar convinced many in Tehran and beyond that a plot was being hatched to pitch Afghan Shias against the Taliban and create sectarian strife in the yet-to-be-stabilized Afghanistan that would impinge on Tehran one way or another.

The attacks further exacerbated Iran’s concerns regarding Afghanistan and made it even more determined to pursue an inclusive government in Kabul.

 The Wednesday meeting in Tehran provided a platform for all these countries to communicate their fears and present their demands. More importantly, it created a venue for them to coordinate their positions and unitedly urge the Taliban into taking into consideration the interests and concerns of neighboring countries.

The joint statement of the Tehran meeting noted that “that an inclusive and broad-based political structure with the participation of all ethno-political groups is the only solution to the Afghanistan issues.” 

It also called on “the international community to provide humanitarian assistance on urgent basis.” 

Furthermore, the statement called on the “international community to remain positively engaged with Afghanistan and develop long term roadmap to advance the agenda of political engagement, economic integration and regional connectivity.”

To make sure that the meeting serves the interests of all the participants, the statement took note of “the assurances and commitments of relevant responsible Afghan parties to the international community that the territory of Afghanistan will not pose any threats to the neighboring countries and will not be used by criminal, terrorist and separatist groups, and cut ties with all kinds of terrorist groups, strike and eliminate them in a decisive manner.”

The Tehran meeting also resulted in an agreement to hold the next round of the meeting in 2022 in China, indicating that the neighboring countries of Afghanistan succeeded in establishing a credible platform to address issues related to peace and security in Afghanistan. This platform can transform into an opportunity for the Taliban to join regional efforts and strengthen cooperation with the region’s countries for the good of the Afghan people.

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