Kazan, 30 September 2023 (TDI): The fifth meeting of the Moscow Format Consultations on Afghanistan convened on September 29, 2023, bringing together special representatives and senior officials from nine nations; China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

The meeting also welcomed the acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan and esteemed guests of honor from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Türkiye.

During the discussions, participants expressed deep concern over the precarious security situation in Afghanistan, primarily driven by the heightened activities of terrorist groups, with a focus on ISIS.

While commending the Afghan authorities for their resolute efforts against ISIS, the international representatives urged a similar commitment to combat all terrorist organizations.

They called upon Afghan authorities to dismantle and prevent the presence of terrorist groups within Afghanistan’s borders, ensuring that the country does not become a breeding ground for terrorism & instability that could spill over into neighboring regions.

The representatives also acknowledged reports indicating a reduction in poppy cultivation in Afghanistan due to the Afghan government’s measures.

Emphasizing the importance of sustained and effective anti-drug policies, the participants noted the alarming rise in industrial drug production.

In a united voice, the participants called for increased cooperation between Afghanistan and regional countries to combat terrorism and drug trafficking originating from Afghan territory. They strongly condemned external support for terrorism in Afghanistan.

The lack of progress in forming an inclusive government in Afghanistan, representative of all ethno-political groups, was regretfully acknowledged.

Despite the appointment of individuals from various Afghan ethnicities, the participants stressed the need for genuine political pluralism and urged the Afghan authorities to engage in productive dialogues with alternative ethnopolitical groups.

The aim is to foster a more comprehensive, balanced, inclusive, accountable, and responsible government in Afghanistan.

Furthermore, the international representatives appealed to Afghan authorities to create conditions that improve the well-being of Afghan citizens, curtail migration, and facilitate the return of refugees.

Respect for fundamental rights and freedoms in Afghanistan, including equal access to employment, education, and justice without discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, or religion, was a central concern.

Restrictions on women’s employment and girls’ education were noted with concern. The Afghan authorities were urged to promote modern education in line with international standards.

Regarding the UN Secretary-General’s efforts to coordinate actions on Afghanistan, the participants highlighted the possibility of cooperation with non-regional players if the US-led Western coalition, whose two decades of involvement contributed to the current situation, accepts its responsibility for post-conflict reconstruction in Afghanistan.

The immediate unfreezing of Afghan national assets and the lifting of unilateral sanctions were called for. The participants reaffirmed their support for an independent, united, and peaceful Afghanistan.

They expressed strong opposition to the deployment of military infrastructure facilities from third countries in Afghanistan and its neighboring states under any pretext.

While acknowledging the potential for regional economic projects involving Afghanistan, the necessity of strengthening bilateral and multilateral economic ties was emphasized.

Lastly, the participants advocated for non-politicized humanitarian assistance and the continuation of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. They expressed interest in expanding cultural, sporting, and educational engagements with Afghan authorities.

The Moscow Format Consultations on Afghanistan concluded with a proposal from the Islamic Republic of Iran to enhance regional cooperation through the establishment of a regional contact group for discussions on shared interests in Afghanistan.

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