New Delhi: India and five Central Asian countries on Sunday called for providing immediate humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan and asserted that Afghan territory must not be used for sheltering, training, planning or financing terrorist activities.

At the third India-Central Asia Dialogue, the countries also reiterated their strong support for a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan while underlining the need for respecting the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the war-torn country.

The dialogue, attended by the foreign ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, was hosted by India in Delhi.

“The ministers reiterated strong support for a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan while emphasising the respect for sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity and non-interference in its internal affairs,” a joint statement said.

It said the ministers also discussed the current humanitarian situation and decided to continue to provide immediate humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people.

“The ministers reaffirmed the importance of UNSC Resolution 2593 (2021) which unequivocally demands that Afghan territory not be used for sheltering, training, planning or financing terrorist acts and called for concerted action against all terrorist groups,” the statement said.

It said the ministers also agreed to continue close consultations on the situation in Afghanistan.

“While taking note of the outcome document of the Delhi Regional Security Dialogue of November 10, the ministers noted that there is a broad ‘regional consensus’ on the issues related to Afghanistan, which includes the formation of a truly representative and inclusive government, combating terrorism and drug trafficking,” the joint statement said.

It also talked about the UN’s role in Afghanistan as well as the need for providing immediate humanitarian assistance for the Afghan people besides preserving the rights of women, children and other national ethnic groups.

In his opening remarks, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar pitched for finding ways to help the Afghan people.

“We all share deep-rooted historical and civilisational ties with Afghanistan. Our concerns and objectives in that country are similar,” Jaishankar said.

He listed a truly inclusive and representative government, the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking, ensuring unhindered humanitarian assistance and preserving the rights of women, children and minorities as key priorities in Afghanistan.

“We must find ways of helping the people of Afghanistan,” he said.

Jaishankar said India is committed to take its ties with Central Asia to the next level.

He floated a ‘four C’ approach focusing on commerce, capacity enhancement, connectivity and contacts to further expand the cooperation between the two sides.

“Our meeting today comes amid a rapidly changing global economic and political situation. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an enormous setback to global health and to global economy,” Jaishankar said.

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