Afghanistan dominates SCO talks: Highlights of who said what at Dushanbe summit

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At the 21th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Tajikistan's capital, Dushanbe, the focus was primarily on the ground situation in Afghanistan and its global repercussions.

The Indian delegation, a member of SCO since 2017, was led by prime minister Narendra Modi virtually. He took a strong stance against 'radicalisation' and 'extremism', urging the eight-member panel to come up with a joint approach, as per Hindustan Times.

The eight-member group includes China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan.

Here's a look at what some other nations said:

Pakistan

Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan said that a "new reality" has been established in Afghanistan after the Taliban seized power in Kabul and it is now in the international community's "collective interest" to ensure that there is no renewed conflict in the war-torn country and it will never again become a safe haven for terrorists.

Khan said it should be a matter of relief for the world that the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and the full withdrawal of foreign forces from the country happened "without bloodshed, without civil war, and without mass exodus of refugees".

Pakistan, which had suffered due to the spillover of conflict and instability in Afghanistan, had an interest in a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, he said.

"The sudden change of the previous government which surprised everyone, the takeover by the Taliban, and the full withdrawal of foreign forces, has established a new reality in Afghanistan," Khan said.

Equally urgent priorities are to prevent a humanitarian crisis and an economic meltdown, he said, adding, "We must remember that the previous government depended heavily on foreign aid and its removal could lead to economic collapse. This is a moment to stand by the Afghan people, firmly and unequivocally."

He said that the Taliban rulers should make good on their commitments for inclusive political structure with representation for all ethnic groups, for the sake of Afghanistan's stability.

The history of Afghanistan bears witness to the fact that the country values its sovereignty and cannot be controlled from outside, he said, adding that he believes that a positive engagement of the international community with Afghanistan is extremely important.

China

Chinese President Xi Jinping too called for a stable government in Afghanistan, saying, "The withdrawal of foreign troops has opened a new page in its history. But Afghanistan still faces many daunting challenges, and it needs the support and assistance of the international community, particularly countries in our region," reported India Today.

He also said, "We, the SCO member states, need to step up coordination, make full use of platforms such as the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group and facilitate a smooth transition in Afghanistan."

Jinping also endorsed Iran's future membership with SCO.

Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the Afghanistan government formed by the Taliban is not representative and inclusive, but it is essential to work with it as he stressed on the need to coordinate the stance of other countries on the issue of recognition.

"This is an interim government, as the Taliban themselves say, and it cannot be really called representative or inclusive," he said, adding that there are no members of other ethnic groups in it.

"However, it appears that it is necessary to work with it too. As for recognition, I believe, and I agree with those who spoke about it, that we need to coordinate our stance on the issue," Putin said.

Putin said, "Now our organisation is facing an acute task of pursuing a common, agreed line, taking into account the serious risks associated with the aggravation of the situation in Afghanistan after the hasty withdrawal - well, it can be even called an escape - of the US forces and their NATO allies from this country."

Meanwhile Putin hailed the decision to grant dialogue partner status in the SCO to Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

He urged members to provide all possible assistance to the start of an inclusive intra-Afghan peace process and at the "same time to do everything to block the threats of terrorism, drug trafficking, religious extremism emanating from this country."

Iran's membership was welcomed by Putin as well.

Iran

Speaking in the Tajik capital Dushanbe, Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi thanked the SCO's eight members for supporting its bid.

"Please accept my appreciation. May God's peace and blessings be upon you," Raisi said, according to an audio translation provided at the summit.

Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said joining the bloc would have an "important impact" on Tehran's cooperation with the countries.

SCO leaders did not announce a timeline for bloc observer Iran's membership.

Why the meet?

Members of the China and Russia-led Shanghai Cooperation Organisation on Friday endorsed Iran's future membership of the bloc that already includes South Asian rivals India and Pakistan.

The move comes as Moscow and Beijing have moved to assert themselves as key players in the region, after the United States' hasty retreat from Afghanistan and the Taliban's takeover of the country.

The organisation seeks to combat ethnic separatism, religious extremism and terrorism in Central Asia.

Tehran applied for full SCO membership in 2008 but its bid was slowed by the sanctions imposed on the country by the United Nations and the United States over its nuclear programme.

The accession of Pakistan and India to the SCO in 2017 raised questions about the future direction of cooperation in the group.

Iran's membership could pose fresh geopolitical complications.

Apart from Moscow and Beijing, other founding members of the SCO are former Soviet Central Asian states Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Afghanistan holds observer status at the SCO, but was not invited to observe proceedings in Dushanbe in the wake of the Taliban's seizure of power.

With inputs from agencies

Also See: SCO summit in Dushanbe: S Jaishankar meets his counterparts from Iran, Armenia and Uzbekistan

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