Jaishankar meets Afghan counterpart; Discusses recent developments in Afghanistan

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Jaishankar | PTI

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday met his Afghan counterpart Mohammad Haneef Atmar, who briefed him about the situation in the war-torn country amid growing security concerns over the Taliban fighters rapidly seizing control of a large number of areas, forcing many countries to scale down their presence there.

Jaishankar arrived in the Tajik capital on Tuesday for a two-day visit to attend the meetings of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers and the SCO Contact Group on Afghanistan which will discuss the deteriorating security situation, arising out of speedy withdrawal of the US forces.

"Began my Dushanbe visit by meeting with Afghan FM @MHaneefAtmar. Appreciate his update on recent developments. Looking forward to the meeting of the SCO Contact Group on Afghanistan tomorrow," Jaishankar tweeted.

India has evacuated around 50 diplomats and security personnel from its consulate in Kandahar in a military aircraft in the wake of intense fighting between Afghan forces and Taliban militants.

Noting that the government was closely monitoring the situation, Indian officials said the Indian consulates in Afghanistan's Kandahar and Mazar-i-Sharif remain operational.

Earlier in the day, Afghanistan's envoy to India Farid Mamundzay said the Indian consulate general in Kandahar has not been closed and continues to operate through local staff.

"The temporary measure to bring diplomats back to India is based on safety and security grounds. India's long-term commitment towards a peaceful, sovereign and stable Afghanistan remains strong," he said.

Several countries, including China and France have asked their nationals to leave Afghanistan over security concerns.

A number of countries have also sent home non-essential personnel from their diplomatic missions in Kabul and warned their citizens against travelling to Afghanistan.

The SCO contact group meeting on Afghanistan especially assumes significance as it comes amidst growing global concerns over Taliban fighters rapidly seizing control of a large number of areas in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan has witnessed a series of terror attacks in the last few weeks as the US looked to complete the withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan by August-end, ending a nearly two-decade of its military presence in the war-ravaged country.

A major stakeholder in the peace and stability of Afghanistan, India has already invested nearly USD 3 billion in aid and reconstruction activities in the country.

The SCO, seen as a counterweight to NATO, is an eight-member economic and security bloc and has emerged as one of the largest transregional international organisations.

India and Pakistan became its permanent members in 2017.

The SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.


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