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Ministry of External Affairs Secretary (West) Reenat Sandhu.
Ministry of External Affairs Secretary (West) Reenat Sandhu.

Afghanistan situation discussed at maiden India-Central Asia Summit

ANI | Updated: Jan 27, 2022 20:59 IST

New Delhi [India], January 27 (ANI): New Delhi on Thursday discussed the evolving situation in Afghanistan and its impact on security in the region at the first India-Central Asia Summit held virtually.
Ministry of External Affairs Secretary (West), Reenat Sandhu, in a special briefing on the summit said, "The evolving situation in Afghanistan and its impact on the security and stability of the region were discussed in detail at India-Central Asia Summit meeting. The leaders reiterated strong support for a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan."
Afghanistan has been in turmoil since the Taliban took control of the nation in mid-August, 2021.
The participation of the Secretaries of National Security Councils of Central Asian countries in the regional security dialogue on Afghanistan in New Delhi in November last year underlined India's common regional approach to Afghanistan.
The leaders underscored the importance of regular dialogue between the Security Councils of their countries amid common cocktail of terrorism, extremism and radicalisation in the region.
They expressed satisfaction at regular meetings and Security dialogues held between their Security Councils, in particular, during 2021. They welcomed the outcomes of the 'Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan' held on 10 November 2021, read the MEA statement.
At the same time, the participating leaders reiterated their pledge to maintain unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of war-torn Afghanistan.
They also discussed the current humanitarian situation and decided to continue to provide immediate humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.
The leaders reaffirmed the importance of UNSC Resolution 2593 (2021) which unequivocally demands that Afghan territory not be used for sheltering, training, planning or financing terrorist acts and called for concerted action against all terrorist groups, including those sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), read the statement.
They also agreed to continue close consultations on the situation in Afghanistan. In this context, they decided to establish a Joint Working Group on Afghanistan at the Senior Officials Level.
They noted that there is a broad 'regional consensus' on the issues related to Afghanistan, which includes the formation of a truly representative and inclusive government, combating terrorism and drug trafficking, the central role of the UN, providing immediate humanitarian assistance for the people of Afghanistan and preserving the rights of women, children and other national ethnic groups and minorities, added the statement.
In this regard, the leaders noted the initiative of Uzbekistan to hold a High-Level International Conference on Afghanistan under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in July 2022 in Tashkent.
The maiden India-Central Asia Summit was held virutually with the participation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Presidents of 5 Central Asian countries today.
At the initiative of PM Modi, the President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the President of Kyrgyzstan, Sadyr Japarov, the President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon, the President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and the President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev attended the first India-Central Asia Summit today in virtual format.
The timing of the meeting is of particular significance as India and Central Asia countries are celebrating the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations with the 5 Central Asian countries this year.
"The first meeting of the India-Central Asia Summit held today is a culmination of our sustained diplomatic engagement with all Central Asian countries in recent years," said Sandhu.
"It may be recalled that after PM Modi's historic visit to all Central Asian countries in 2015, there has been a strong momentum in our relations with the Central Asian countries, both bilaterally and at the multilateral level," added Sandhu.
There have been regular high-level exchanges since then with all the Central Asian countries. The inception of the India-Central Asia dialogue at the Foreign Minister's level in 2019, the third meeting of which was held in New Delhi from 18-20th December 2021 underlined the high importance that India attaches to strengthening cooperation with Central Asia.
The Central Asian countries are part of India's extended neighbourhood and with which it enjoys deep historical, cultural and civilizational links.
"The first meeting of India-Central Asia Summit held today is a culmination of our sustained diplomatic engagement with the Central Asian countries in recent years. The programme of today's summit included opening remarks by all the leaders followed by their statements on the main theme of the summit which was taking India-Central Asia's relation to 'new heights", said Sandhu.
Secretary (West) also said that joint- counter-terrorism exercises will be held between India and interesting Central Asian countries.
"Joint counter-terrorism exercises will be held between India and interested Central Asian countries. India will host a 100-member youth delegation from Central Asian countries every year to promote greater understanding," said MEA Secretary Sandhu.
She also informed that India and Central Asia will be commissioning a dictionary of common words.
"India, Central Asia to commission a dictionary of common words used in India and Central Asia countries and showcase a Buddhist exhibition in Central Asia," said Sandhu.
PM Modi gave the closing remarks, all-together the virtual summit lasted for around 1 and half hours.
"In the traditional spirit of friendship and mutual understanding PM Modi and the leaders of Central Asian countries reviewed the progress made in India-Central Asia relations during the past three decades since the establishment of diplomatic ties and discussed building partnerships to "great heights" in coming years by enhancing cooperation across several areas," said Sandhu.
The leaders also had a candid exchange of views on regional, international issues of interest, especially the current regional security situation.
PM Modi underlined the importance of setting an ambitious agenda for our partnership, taking into account the changing global realities and aspirations of the youth.
"In this context, he suggested preparing a roadmap for the next 30 years, focussing on connectivity and cooperation in an integrated manner," added Sandhu.
An important outcome of the meeting was the agreement among the leaders of India and Central Asian countries to hold summit-level meetings every two years. The next summit will be accordingly held in 2024.
"One of the key proposals made by PM Modi was to institutionalize framework for India-Central Asia cooperation at a regional level and to include annual-ministerial meetings of the Foreign Minister's, Trade Minister's, Cultural Minister's and Secretaries of Securities to strengthen cooperation in the areas of political and development partnerships, trade and connectivity, culture and tourism and security," said Sandhu. (ANI)