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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Afghanistan on agenda, S Jaishankar set to visit Tajikistan for SCO meet

The minister will likely hold a series of bilateral meetings at Tajik capital city Dushanbe with his counterparts from Russia, Iran and Tajikistan among others.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: September 14, 2021 5:52:39 am
S. Jaishankar. (File)

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar is expected to travel to Tajikistan this week to attend a key meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) on the situation in Afghanistan after its takeover by the Taliban, sources said.

Meanwhile, Jaishankar said Monday that India is ready to send humanitarian aid to Afghan people as in the past but it should have unrestricted access and the aid should be distributed to all sections of society.

Jaishankar is also likely to hold a series of bilateral meetings at Tajik capital city Dushanbe with his counterparts from Russia, Iran and Tajikistan among others.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to virtually participate in the annual SCO summit on September 17 that is expected to deliberate extensively on the developments in Afghanistan as well as the overall regional security scenario.

Jaishankar will attend a meeting on Afghanistan of the heads of state of SCO and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi are expected to be in Dushanbe for the SCO meetings. Earlier this month, Jaishankar spoke to his newly-appointed Iranian counterpart and discussed the situation in Afghanistan as well as bilateral issues.

On Monday, Jaishankar said India had always stood and would stand with Afghan people but humanitarian aid should be unfettered.

He said only the United Nations had the capacity to monitor such endeavours and reassure donors.

Addressing a high-level meeting of the United Nations on the humanitarian situation in the war-ravaged country, Jaishankar called for the global community to help create the best possible enabling environment in the country.

Given the grave emerging situation in the neighbouring country, India was willing to stand by the Afghan people just as it had done in the past, the external affairs minister said. However, among the challenges that the current situation posed was that of efficient logistics, he added.

“It is therefore essential that humanitarian assistance providers are accorded unimpeded, unrestricted and direct access to Afghanistan. Once relief materials reach that country, the world will naturally expect a non-discriminatory distribution of humanitarian assistance across all sections of the Afghan society. Only the United Nations has the capacity to monitor such endeavours and reassure donors,” he said.

Guided by historical ties, India’s friendship with Afghanistan was reflected in the development projects that had been undertaken in all 34 provinces of the country.

“In all, we have invested more than $3 billion for the welfare of the people of Afghanistan. We have undertaken 500 projects in critical areas of power, water supply, road connectivity, healthcare, education, agriculture and capacity building,” he added.

Jaishankar said India was monitoring developments with “understandable concern” in Afghanistan following its takeover by the Taliban. As the war-torn country was passing through a critical and challenging phase, there was an imminent threat of rising poverty levels and the same could have a catastrophic effect on regional stability, he added.

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