On 31 March 2022, the third ministerial conference of Afghanistan’s neighboring countries took place in the Chinese city of Tunxi, which was attended by Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
Heads of participating delegations:
- Russia – minister of foreign affairs Sergey Lavrov
- China – chairman of the meeting – state councilor, minister of foreign affairs Wang Yi
- Iran – minister of foreign affairs Amir Abdollahian
- Pakistan – minister of foreign affairs Mahmood Qureshi
- Tajikistan – minister of justice Muzaffar Ashuriyon
- Turkmenistan – deputy prime minister, minister of foreign affairs Rashid Meredov
- Uzbekistan – deputy prime minister, minister of investments and foreign trade Sardor Umurzakov
President Xi Jinping delivered a written message to the participants, which noted that “China always respects Afghanistan’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and has committed to supporting its pursuit of peace, stability and development.”
The Chinese leader called on the neighboring countries of Afghanistan to do their best to build consensus and coordinate efforts to support the people of Afghanistan in building a brighter future.
The conference participants agreed that it is important to strengthen coordination and cooperation, to help Afghanistan achieve peace, stability and economic recovery, as well as to support and guide the Interim Government of Afghanistan so that it earnestly fulfills its commitments and responds positively to the expectations of the international community, especially its neighbors.
They stressed that the US and NATO should shoulder primary responsibilities for Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development and return the assets of the Afghan people as soon as possible.
The countries announced the launch of a mechanism for regular consultations between the Special Envoys for Afghanistan and three working groups, namely political and diplomatic, economic and humanitarian, security and stability.
The meeting adopted a joint statement of the parties and the Tunxi Initiative of the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan on Supporting Economic Reconstruction in and Practical Cooperation with Afghanistan. In addition, on behalf of all participants of the meeting, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who chaired the meeting, presented a consensus on eight areas of support for Afghanistan.
The next meeting of Afghanistan’s neighboring countries will be held in Tashkent in the first quarter of 2023.
On the sidelines of the conference, the foreign ministers of Afghanistan’s neighboring countries also met with a Taliban delegation headed by Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi. Representatives of Indonesia and Qatar attended the meeting as guests. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also took part in the events.
Also in Tunxi, an expanded “troika” at the level of special representatives of Russia, China, the United States and Pakistan met for consultations.
China calls on Afghan neighbors to help Afghanistan embark on the path of independent peaceful development
The head of Chinese diplomacy, Wang Yi, in his speech addressed the neighboring countries of Afghanistan with three proposals on how to support the Afghan people in the post-war epoch.
“First, we should support Afghanistan in finding a path of self-generated development and support the Afghan people in independently deciding the future of their country, ensure that the “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned” principle is truly implemented, realize national reconciliation and unity in Afghanistan, and explore a governance model that suits Afghanistan’s national conditions and responds to the call of the times”, Wang Yi stressed.
He also noted that China strongly opposes non-regional players creating chaos in Afghanistan or using the country for geopolitical rivalry.
Secondly, Beijing calls for supporting Afghanistan in advancing along the path of prosperity and progress. At the same time, “US have to take primary responsibility as the culprit of the predicament in Afghan, stop unilateral sanctions and unconditionally return Afghanistan’s national assets”.
China’s third proposal concerns the need to help Afghanistan in its efforts to eradicate the origins of terrorism and destroy all types of extremist terrorist organizations, including ISIS and ETIM. The matter is also supporting the Afghan people in planting alternative crops for the joint elimination of regional sources of drugs.
Russia opposes the deployment of US-NATO military infrastructure in Central Asia
“We’ve pointed out that we regard as unacceptable the deployment of any US or NATO military infrastructure or their Afghan personnel in neighbouring states, first of all, in Central Asia”, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressed.
Moscow calls for a particularly vigilant approach “regarding requests to accept Afghan refugees in neighbouring states and for carefully analysing the possible negative consequences and the high risks this is posing to the security of the concerned states and the region as a whole.”
Russian chief diplomat noted that despite the lack of managerial experience, financial and economic constraints and political and diplomatic pressure from the United States and its allies, the Taliban government of Afghanistan manages to keep the state “afloat”.
He noted that Kabul has achieved certain positive results in the counter-terrorism area, efforts are being made in the field of human rights, active work is being carried out to expand diplomatic and economic ties.
However, according to Moscow insists that the main obstacle to the official recognition of the Taliban government in Kabul remains its lack of representativeness, namely the absence of representatives of various political forces in the authorities.
“The UN should act as the main coordinator in addressing the entire range of issues as regards the post-conflict recovery of Afghanistan”, said Lavrov.
Iran calls for return of tranquility to Afghanistan
The Iranian foreign minister has expressed hope a ‘calm Afghanistan’ will be established in Iran’s vicinity.
The Iranian foreign minister has expressed hope a ‘calm Afghanistan’ will be established in Iran’s vicinity.
“Neighboring countries should play an important role in establishing peace and stability in Afghanistan because peace and stability in Afghanistan, just like insecurity, can have a direct impact on its neighbors,” said Hossein Amir Abdollahian in a meeting of Afghanistan’s neighboring countries in China, which also brought together delegates from the Taliban, Indonesia and Qatar.
“In the previous meeting, the Islamic Republic of Iran put forward two clear proposals. First, that we should reinforce mechanisms required to help promote security in Afghanistan, and that a clear security mechanism should be devised within the framework of the existing organizations or as an independent body to coordinate policies to fight terrorism and to exchange experience and information to contribute security both in Afghanistan and in the whole region,” he explained.
“Our second proposal is that a regional mechanism as well as a financial fund should be established to help Afghan people, one which would contribute to Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development,” the minister said.
“Our lingering concern is the threat of terrorism spreading from within Afghanistan, the expansion of Daesh and its recruitment inside Afghanistan as well as in some regional countries along with moves that Daesh makes to train its operatives and further expand toward the northern areas of Afghanistan,” he added.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran is concerned over and increasing number of Afghan refugees. Over the past seven months, around one million Afghan women, children and men entered Iran, and now the number of Afghan refugees who are our guests has risen to around 5 million. There is grave concern in this regard, especially at a time when international organizations pay little attention to refugees in countries neighboring Afghanistan,” he said.
The foreign minister also touched upon the necessity of women playing a role in Afghanistan.
“To us, women’s role in Afghanistan is very important. Islam is a progressive religion and that of mercy, which believes women have every right to be present in different areas. It is necessary to once again stress the importance of women’s role in the Muslim Afghan community,” he added.
Elsewhere in his remarks, the top diplomat referred to the issue of unfreezing Afghanistan’s assets and the United States’ claim of contributing to Afghanistan’s reconstruction.
“It is important to unfreeze Afghan people’s assets outside the country in order to serve them. The United States’ occupation of Afghanistan 20 years ago, and now its confiscation of Afghanistan’s assets, are inappropriate moves. The US occupied Afghanistan for 20 years, but failed to build even a small room as a clinic for Afghan people. But today, the Americans speak of reconstructing Afghanistan. If they were really interested in helping, we wouldn’t be witnessing the deplorable humanitarian situation in Afghanistan,” he said.
“All the pledges we make today are related to an important issue. Afghanistan needs the establishment of an all-inclusive government represented by all groups. The formation of a government guarantees stability, security, progress and welfare in Afghanistan. We have not come together today to decide for the Afghan people; rather, we are here to help all Afghan people have a bright and prosperous future full of welfare,” he said. ///MFA Iran
Pakistan is concerned about the long-term economic development of Afghanistan
“While the war in Afghanistan has ended, millions of Afghan children today still face starvation. Afghan hospitals face acute shortages of medicines, equipment and personnel” – this is how Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Mahmoud Qureshi described the catastrophic humanitarian and economic situation in Afghanistan.
Like his counterparts, Qureshi noted that “the humanitarian imperatives must take precedence over political considerations.”
Islamabad continues to insist that the frozen reserves of Afghan foreign banks belong to the Afghan people, and their use should be a sovereign decision of Afghanistan.
The Pakistani Foreign Minister also spoke about the hopes that the international community places on the Taliban Government at a transformational moment.
“The international community has justifiable expectations from the Interim Government on inclusivity, girl’s education, respect for human rights, and effective counter-terrorism action. It would be fair to leave it to Afghanistan to decide whom to include in the Cabinet. Being prescriptive on this account may not be helpful”, Qureshi stressed.
Pakistan encourages the Afghan authorities to continue to take positive measures, including providing girls with access to education and promoting human rights, which will further enhance international engagement and access to needed financial resources.
It is clear that, beyond the immediate humanitarian question, we need to think of long-term economic sustainability and development, the minister continued.
“Until the wheels of commerce and industry are allowed to spin, the lives of the ordinary Afghans will not improve. The ideas of regional connectivity will not materialize without a blueprint for long-term infrastructure development”, he added.
Therefore, the promotion of regional connectivity and energy projects in Afghanistan should remain the cherished goal of the neighboring countries.
“We should not create a donor-dependent nation. Our goal should be a self-reliant, resilient economy in Afghanistan”, Qureshi stressed.
Wang Yi Talks about Eight-pronged Consensus of the Third Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on the Afghan Issue Among the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan
Wang Yi, on behalf of the participants, summarized the eight-pronged consensus reached at the meeting on the Afghan issue:
First, we stress our respect for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan and our support for the Afghan people to independently determine their country’s future and explore a development path that is in line with not only their own national conditions but also the development trend of the times.
Second, we, on the whole, recognize the governance efforts of the Afghan Interim Government for more than half a year, and call on Afghanistan to achieve national reconciliation and domestic solidarity through dialogue and consultation, build a broad-based and inclusive government, exercise moderate and prudent governance, and adhere to good-neighborliness and friendship.
Third, we express our common concern about the activities of terrorist forces in Afghanistan and urge Afghanistan to make a clean break with and firmly dismantle various terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State and the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, and ultimately eliminate them. We should strengthen counter-terrorism and security cooperation among neighboring countries and work together to combat cross-border drug crimes in the region.
Fourth, we are concerned about the severe humanitarian difficulties facing Afghanistan and decide to continue to provide humanitarian assistance for the Afghan people, support Afghanistan’s economic reconstruction and self-reliant development, and strengthen regional connectivity.
Fifth, we call on all parties to engage Afghanistan and conduct dialogue with it, support its economic and social development, oppose sanctions and pressure, and oppose the politicization of humanitarian assistance.
Sixth, we urge the Western countries led by the United States to earnestly fulfill their primary responsibility for the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan, return the property of the Afghan people as soon as possible, and oppose attempts to create chaos in Afghanistan and bring disaster to the region.
Seventh, we support the United Nations in playing its due role in promoting peace and stability and coordinating assistance in Afghanistan, and call on international financial institutions to actively inject liquidity into Afghanistan and help Afghanistan embark on a path of sound development.
Eighth, we will continue to play a unique role in the mechanism of coordination and cooperation among Afghanistan’s neighboring countries. We should launch the mechanism of regular meetings of special envoys (special representatives) of Afghanistan’s neighboring countries on the Afghan issue, establish three working groups on political diplomacy, economy and humanity, and security and stability, and promote the implementation of the outcomes of previous foreign ministers’ meetings.
Joint Statement of the Third Foreign Ministers’ Meeting Among the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan
The third Foreign Ministers’ Meeting among the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan was held in Tunxi, Anhui Province in China on 31 March 2022. Foreign Ministers or senior representatives of seven countries, namely China, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, attended the meeting.
President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China sent a congratulatory message to the meeting. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivered remarks via video link.
In a candid and pragmatic atmosphere of mutual understanding, the parties had comprehensive, in-depth and constructive discussions on the situation in Afghanistan and on cooperation regarding Afghanistan, and declared the following:
I.Political and diplomatic fields
Reaffirmed respect for the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of Afghanistan, support for the Afghan people in independently deciding the future of their country, and support for the basic principle of “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned”.
Urged the countries mainly responsible for the current predicament in Afghanistan to earnestly fulfill commitments on the economic recovery and future development of Afghanistan.
Stressed that a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan serves the common interests of regional countries and Afghanistan, and expressed readiness to jointly play a constructive role to this end.
Noted the importance to achieve national reconciliation in Afghanistan through dialogue and negotiation, and to establish a broad-based and inclusive political structure, adopt moderate and sound domestic and foreign policies, and grow friendly relations with all countries, especially its neighbors, and emphasized the necessity for all sides to strengthen dialogue and communication with Afghanistan for the above purposes.
Noted the importance of taking necessary continuing steps in Afghanistan on ensuring women’s rights and children’s education, among others, and called for further actions to be taken to improve people’s livelihood, safeguard the fundamental rights of all Afghans, including ethnic groups, women and children.
Reaffirmed opposition to attempts at politicizing humanitarian assistance, and reiterated respect and support for the central role of Afghanistan in distributing and using humanitarian assistance to be rendered by international community and international organizations to the people of Afghanistan.
II.Economic and humanitarian fields
Expressed deep concern over the humanitarian situation, economic and livelihood plight in Afghanistan and announced readiness to provide further humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.
Expressed appreciation of and support for the key role of the UN in providing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, and called on the international community in particular the UN agencies and relevant members of the UN Security Council to step up emergency humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.
Followed with concern the spread of COVID-19 and shortages of medicine and medical equipment in Afghanistan, and expressed readiness to help Afghanistan enhance capacity in health care and COVID-19 containment.
Expressed support for Afghanistan’s efforts toward self-generated development, and undertook to support the economic recovery of Afghanistan at both bilateral and multilateral levels, open up ports further, and strengthen exchanges and cooperation with Afghanistan in such fields as trade and economy, energy, agriculture, finance, connectivity and infrastructure, to help Afghanistan build capacity for self-generated development.
Reaffirmed commitment to deepen cooperation within such frameworks as the Belt and Road Initiative, as well as regional cooperation organizations, and to include Afghanistan in the regional connectivity, energy and transport networks, economic and trade systems, in order to help Afghanistan unleash its geographical advantages and economic potential.
III. Counter-terrorism and security
Noted commitments and pledges made by Afghanistan to the international community that the territory of Afghanistan will not pose any threats to the neighboring countries and no place will be given to terrorist groups on the Afghan territory.
Stressed terrorism as a key factor affecting stability in Afghanistan, condemned all forms of violence and terrorist attacks, and reiterated that ISIS, Al-Qaeda, ETIM, TTP, BLA, Jondollah, Jaish-Al-Adl, Jamaat Ansarullah, IMU and other terrorist organizations must not be given any place on the Afghan territory.
Called on relevant Afghan parties to take more visible steps to make a clean break with all forms of terrorist forces, monitor free movement of all terrorist organizations, and to firmly fight and eliminate them including through dismantling of their training camps, to ensure that Afghanistan would never again serve as a breeding ground, safe haven or source of proliferation for terrorism.
Urged relevant Afghan parties to safeguard the security and legitimate rights and interests of foreign citizens and institutions in Afghanistan.
Reaffirmed readiness to strengthen counter-terrorism and security cooperation among neighboring countries, build a united front against terrorism. Noted the initiative of the Republic of Tajikistan on “security belt”around Afghanistan. Tighten border control, prevent terrorist forces from fleeing across borders, and stay committed to safeguarding security and stability in the region. Expressed readiness to conduct counter-terrorism and security cooperation with Afghanistan to help it build counter-terrorism capacity.
Encouraged relevant Afghan parties to take concrete actions against cultivation, production and illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs in order to crack down on organized crime to free Afghanistan from the scourge of drugs.
Reaffirmed readiness to scale up joint efforts to combat cross-border drug-related crime and protect people’s health and social stability.
Expressed concern over the situation of the Afghan refugee as well as internally displaced people and support for UN agencies in playing an active role in this regard.
Expressed appreciation of the efforts made by the regional countries, in particular Pakistan and Iran, on the issue of Afghan refugees and called on the international community to provide those countries with continuous, sufficient and proportionate financial support for timely return of Afghan refugees with dignity and honor.
Announced the launch of a mechanism for regular consultations among special envoys (special representatives) for Afghanistan of the neighboring countries and three working groups namely political and diplomatic, economic and humanitarian, security and stability, to follow up on the outcomes of the foreign ministers’ meetings among the neighboring countries of Afghanistan.
Expressed appreciation and gratitude to the Chinese side for hosting the 3rd Foreign Ministers’ Meeting at the high organizational level, supported Uzbekistan to convene the 4th Foreign Ministers’Meeting in first quarter of 2023 in Tashkent. /// nCa, 1 April 2022
The Tunxi Initiative of the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan on Supporting Economic Reconstruction in and Practical Cooperation with Afghanistan is available here: