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Afghanistan’s neighbors plan to hold virtual summit in ‘next few days’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Afghans celebrate the 102th Independence Day of Afghanistan with the national flag in Kabul on August 19, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Afghanistan’s neighboring countries are set to hold a virtual summit to discuss the latest chain of events following the hasty and ill-planned withdrawal of US-led forces and the Taliban’s takeover of the war-ravaged country.

Following consultations with the foreign ministers of Russia and China, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and his Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, agreed in a telephone conversation on Saturday that a multinational summit will be convened in the next few days, Fars News reported.

The meeting will be at the level of special representatives and foreign ministers.

Qureshi had proposed the summit in a visit to the Iranian capital of Tehran last month, during which the top Pakistani diplomat discussed with Iran’s President Ebrahim Raeisi and Foreign Ministry officials the latest developments in Afghanistan as well as other regional and bilateral issues.

Via his Twitter account, the Pakistani foreign minister said he had extensive discussions with Amir-Abdollahian on regional security and a coordinated approach for Afghanistan to work towards security, stability and an inclusive political settlement. 

In recent days, Amir-Abdollahian has held phone conversations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi over the issue of Afghanistan.

The Iranian and Chinese foreign ministers stressed the importance of establishing an inclusive government in Afghanistan with the participation of all ethnicities and groups. They also laid emphasis on fighting terrorism and narcotics, dispatching humanitarian aid, and keeping border crossings open.

They held the United States responsible for the current crisis in Afghanistan for it has played a destructive role in the country over the past two decades.

The Taliban are poised to run Afghanistan again 20 years after they were removed from power by American invading forces. 

The Taliban’s deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar said in an interview with Al Jazeera on Saturday that the group was in the process of forming an inclusive government.

The Taliban militants intensified their offensives and rapidly overran major cities in recent weeks even before the United States had completed its withdrawal. They took control of Afghanistan on August 15, forcing the US-allied Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, to flee the country.

The shock takeover also prompted the hasty and ill-organized evacuation of thousands of Afghan and foreign civilians via the Kabul airport, while foreign troops also used the airfield to pull out.

The Taliban are currently engaged in intense fighting in the Panjshir Valley — an anti-Taliban bastion and the only region to have held out against the group.

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