India to host Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan

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According to MEA, the National Security Advisors’ level dialogue will witness an expanded participation of Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, who will all be represented by their respective NSAs, reports Asian Lite News

The Ministry of External Affairs on Monday officially announced that India will host the ‘Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan’ on November 10.

According to a statement issued by the MEA, this National Security Advisors’ level dialogue on Afghanistan will witness an expanded participation of Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, who will all be represented by their respective National Security Advisers or Secretaries of the Security Councils. Pakistan has refused to participate in this event.

The high-level dialogue, to be chaired by India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, will review the security situation in the region arising from recent developments in Afghanistan. It will deliberate upon measures to address the relevant security challenges and support the people of Afghanistan in promoting peace, security and stability.

The first two editions of the Dialogue were hosted by Iran in 2018 and 2019.

Officials said that there has been an overwhelming response to India’s invitation, noting that the high-level participation in the meet is reflective of “widespread and growing concern of regional countries about the situation in Afghanistan and their desire to consult and coordinate with each other wherein India has an important role to play in this process”.

This is the first time that almost all countries of Central Asia will be participating in this meet, the sources said, adding that the enthusiastic approach of all Central Asian countries reflect the growing concerns for Afghanistan after the Taliban took over the reins in August this year.

“The overwhelming response to New Delhi’s initiative also shows the importance attached to India’s role in regional efforts to promote peace and security in Afghanistan,” an official said.

India has traditionally enjoyed close and friendly ties with the people of Afghanistan and has called for a unified international response to address the security and humanitarian challenges facing Afghanistan. The forthcoming meeting is a step in that direction, the MEA said in the statement.

China to skip meet

After Pakistan, China has also decided to skip a regional security meeting on Afghanistan on November 10 which will be hosted by India.

India will host the Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan on November 10 which will be attended by seven countries. The dialogue will be held at the level of National Security Advisers/Secretaries of Security Councils and will be chaired by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval.

Pakistan had declined India’s invitation and called India a “spoiler” and not a “peacemaker” in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s National Security Advisor Moeed Yusuf, in response to a question on whether he would attend the event, said, “I will not go. I am not going. A spoiler cannot be a peacemaker.”

“We called Pakistan only because it was the format. It is unfortunate that they chose not to attend. Either they don’t share the security concerns, or they have a different perception,” said sources.

Meanwhile, China responded by saying that they are unable to attend due to scheduling difficulties, but open to maintaining discussions with India through bilateral channels, according to sources.

Seven countries confirmed participation — Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

“The high-level dialogue will review the security situation in the region arising from recent developments in Afghanistan. It will deliberate upon measures to address the relevant security challenges and support the people of Afghanistan in promoting peace, security and stability,” said a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs.

Calling this a “security” dialogue and not a “diplomatic” track, sources say that this meeting is not a foreign policy dialogue. There are many dialogues on Afghanistan led by foreign ministers. This is unique as security heads of regional stakeholders are meeting to “review” the security situation in Afghanistan.

In 2018, a group was constituted that decided Iran should host a meeting of five nations – Afghanistan, China, India, Iran and Russia. The second meeting took place in 2019 where Iran invited Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

According to sources, Pakistan attended neither, telling Iran that if India was present they would not attend. But Iran went ahead and India attended the meeting.

The third plenary will be hosted by India where the Security chiefs will call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A source said that the focus will not be documents, but more on what can be done. A joint statement would only be issued if there is consensus.

“India has traditionally enjoyed close and friendly ties with the people of Afghanistan and has called for a unified international response to address the security and humanitarian challenges facing Afghanistan. The forthcoming meeting is a step in that direction,” said the MEA statement.

Sources say that key countries agree on threats and what should be done on the future. The focus would be on the difficulties being faced by the people of Afghanistan.

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