On October 8, 2020, the first meeting of the Turkmenistan-IRA-US format was held, which was attended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Rashid Meredov, US Deputy Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale and Acting Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Mohammad Hanif Atmar in the format of a video conference.
During the meeting, the parties discussed a number of important issues of a political, trade, economic and humanitarian nature.
The parties agreed that this starting meeting within the framework of the trilateral dialogue initiated by Turkmenistan is intended to provide an important impetus for further discussion and solution of cardinal issues of the regional agenda, in particular, assistance to Afghanistan.
One of the main topics of the meeting was the promotion of the inter-Afghan negotiations aimed at ending the long-term armed conflict and establishing peace in the region. In this regard, the firm stance of Turkmenistan, which advocates using exclusively political and diplomatic mechanisms to achieve peace and stability in the neighboring country, was emphasized. For this, in accordance with the principles of the country’s neutrality, Turkmenistan is ready to provide its political space for the next rounds of inter-Afghan negotiations.
The position of Turkmenistan on security issues was stated. The country is in favor of the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. In November 2011, the Government of Turkmenistan and the UN Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia organized a high-level meeting in Ashgabat, during which a corresponding Joint Plan was adopted. This was the world’s first experience of adapting a global counter-terrorism strategy to a specific region. Turkmenistan is taking important steps in this direction and is closely cooperating with international partners to counter drug trafficking and strengthen border security. In this context, the parties exchanged views on improving the interaction base.
The parties raised issues of a social nature, including the promotion of equal rights for women and their economic empowerment.
During the meeting, the parties also considered the possibilities of developing trade relations between Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, the United States and the Central Asian region by increasing the efficiency of customs and other procedures in accordance with the existing Trade and Investment Agreement between the United States and Central Asia (TIFA).
In this context, the importance of the development of transport, transit and fuel and energy corridors was noted. Cooperation on the efficient use of the Lapis-Lazuli Corridor was also discussed, including identifying other transport projects on which Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and the United States can work together to increase trade in the region.
The parties discussed the possibilities of joint implementation of infrastructure projects, including such energy projects as TAPI and TAP.
Opportunities for humanitarian cooperation were also considered, including coordination of actions to counteract the current pandemic and crisis situations in the field of public health.
The parties agreed to continue an active dialogue to promote intercultural dialogue, strengthen cooperation in order to ensure peace, security and economic growth in the Central Asian region.
Following the talks, the parties adopted a Joint Statement.
/// MFA Turkmenistan, 8 October 2020