China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan and others in the region surrounding Afghanistan have set out to establish unity in confronting the crises enveloping the nation since the U.S. military withdrawal.
In their second such meeting, the senior diplomats from Afghanistan’s six neighboring countries and Russia gathered virtually and in person for a conference in the Iranian capital of Tehran on Wednesday in an effort to further align their views.
They come together at a time when Afghanistan is facing imminent humanitarian, economic and security crises. Representatives were on hand from China, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Among the most concerning developments for these countries has been the rise of militant groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS) that have issued threats beyond Afghanistan’s borders.
“We should positively view the timely development of bilateral and multilateral dialogues and cooperation with Afghanistan on fighting terrorism,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.
He called upon those present to act through two platforms, the United Nations and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a coalition of countries in which all present, save for neutral Turkmenistan, are members.
“It is necessary to create a unified front against terrorism by means of such multilateral platforms as the U.N. and the SCO,” Wang said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov echoed this call in his remarks, and additionally offered the assistance of the Collective Treaty Security Organization, a Moscow-led alliance that also included Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
“We once again call on the countries neighboring Afghanistan to prevent the U.S. and NATO from establishing a military presence in their territory, given their plans to move there after pulling out of Afghanistan,” Lavrov said.
Beijing and Moscow have sought to ensure that regional countries were the ones to take the lead on the developing situation in Afghanistan, where the Taliban quickly seized power from a U.S.-backed government after the pullout. No country in the world has yet recognized the newly established Islamic Emirate. But China, Russian, Iran, Pakistan and others have already begun to engage with the nascent administration in hopes of avoiding further instability.
As turmoil arises in the shape of ISIS attacks, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian highlighted his country’s experience both in battling jihadis in Iraq and Syria and in suffering from U.S. military action in confronting the new challenge in Afghanistan.
“As a pivotal country in the battle against ISIS and terrorism, and as a nation that has suffered the loss of its great General, Martyr Qassem Soleimani, as well as other martyrs in this path, the Islamic Republic of Iran together with other neighbors emphasizes counterterrorism,” Amir-Abdollahian said.