SCO Foreign Ministers meet in Tajikistan; Focus on Afghan situation

New Delhi/Dushanbe: Foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) began arriving in the Tajik capital Dushanbe for meetings that would focus on the situation in Afghanistan in the wake of the US pullout and the Taliban taking control of more territories.

Tajikistan is chair of the eight-nation grouping this year that comprises Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan.

Besides the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers meeting Tuesday, the grouping’s top diplomats are also scheduled to attend the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group meeting.

They will exchange views among them and their Afghan counterpart on promoting regional security and stability, advancing the process of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, and deepening cooperation between the SCO and Afghanistan.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will participate in the confabulations.

The ministers at their July 13-14 engagement will also consider a draft plan of joint action to facilitate Afghanistan’s social and economic reconstruction, said Russia’s Special Presidential Envoy for SCO Affairs Bakhtiyer Khakimov.

“Within the SCO framework, we plan to discuss another initiative put forward by Uzbekistan, which is a draft plan of joint action to help Afghanistan’s social and economic reconstruction,” Khakimov told TASS.

“We believe that such a document should be worked out by all the ministries and agencies concerned and approved, for instance, at the level of heads of government. It is crucial to draft a serious and solid document,” said the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Ambassador at Large.

Khakimov pointed out that the SCO countries have multiple economic projects for cooperation with Afghanistan and are currently discussing ideas of how to rebuild old infrastructure.

He drew attention to the fact that about 160 facilities were built in Afghanistan with the assistance of the erstwhile Soviet Union, most of which were operational at the time of the Soviet troops’ withdrawal from the country.

“Now there are ideas to reconstruct and develop them. Taking into regard that a variety of bilateral projects are being implemented by Russia, China, India, Uzbekistan and other SCO countries, why not put them under the SCO auspices?” Khakimov added.

The Dushanbe meeting will consider several important documents for subsequent adoption in the SCO Council of Heads of State in September this year.

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