At the Delhi Regional Security Dialogue, India and seven countries on Wednesday reiterated their support for “peaceful, secure and stable” Afghanistan.

The Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan on August 15 has triggered turmoil in the country, with thousands of people leaving the country to escape their rule.

In a joint statement, high-ranking security officials of India, Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan said they would respect Afghanistan’s sovereignty and integrity. They added that the countries would not interfere in Kabul’s internal matters.

They emphasised that Afghanistan’s territory should not be used for financing or planning terrorist activities and sheltering or training terrorists. The statement said that the countries “called for collective cooperation against the menace of radicalisation, extremism, separatism and drug trafficking in the region”.

The countries also expressed concern on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and highlighted the need to provide assistance. They said the rights of women, children and minority communities should be protected.

The countries reiterated their commitment to provide assistance to combat the spread of the coronavirus disease.

They also stressed on the need for an inclusive government in Afghanistan that will represent all the sections of the society. “Inclusion of all sections of the society in the administrative and political structure is imperative to the successful national reconciliation process in the country,” the statement said.

The statement said that the United Nations has an important role to play in Afghanistan and the global body’s presence in the country should be preserved.

The countries also raised concerns on the problems faced by Afghans due to the security situation and condemned the terrorist attacks in Kunduz, Kandahar and Kabul.

During the meeting, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval said it was now time for closer consultations, greater cooperation and coordination on the situation in Afghanistan, PTI reported.

“We all have been keenly watching the developments in [Afghanistan],” Doval said. “These have important implications not only for the people of Afghanistan, but also for its neighbours and the region.”

Doval expressed confidence that the discussions will help Afghanis and will “enhance our collective security”.

At the meeting, Iran’s National Security Council Secretary Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani spoke about the challenges of terrorism and the refugee crisis, the Hindustan Times reported. “The solution comes only through the formation of an inclusive government with the participation of all ethnic groups,” he said.

The secretary of Russia’s security council, Nikolai Patrushev, noted that there are several dialogue mechanisms on Afghanistan, including the Moscow Format and Turkic Council. He said that such forums should not duplicate work, but complement each other.

Patrushev said that the Moscow Format had potential to coordinate efforts to ensure peace in Afghanistan, according to the Hindustan Times.

Ten countries, including India, China and Pakistan, participated in the third Moscow Format Consultations on Afghanistan on October 20. Russia has been organising the meeting since 2017 to discuss matters related to Afghanistan.

An Indian delegation had met the Taliban on the sidelines of the talks.

Afghan conflict

The insurgent group seized control of the country as the United States and its allies prepared to pull out their troops from the country after 20 years. On August 31, the last troops of the United States left Afghanistan, with the Taliban marking the withdrawal with celebratory gunfire.

India and several other countries undertook missions to evacuate their citizens from the conflict-torn country.

In September, an interim Taliban government was formed in Afghanistan. The country’s new prime minister, Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund, is on the sanctions list of the United Nations.