Amidst COVID-19 pandemic, the first Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) of the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process (HoA-IP) was held through video tele-conference on 25th Augusts 2020.
The meeting was co-chaired by the Deputy Foreign Ministers of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Mr. Mirwais Nab and the First Deputy Foreign Minister of the Republic of Tajikistan Mr. Khosrow Noziri.
During his welcoming remarks, Mr. Nab thanked the representatives of the HoA-IP Countries and Organizations for their participation in the meeting, and highlighted the regional cooperation during the pandemic times in the Heart of Asia Region as well as briefed the meeting about the progress made by the Afghan Government in the Peace Process. He stressed on the dividends of Afghan Peace not only in Afghanistan but also in the region and beyond.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Noziri outlined the role of cooperation between regional and international community on the Afghan Peace Process, and urged the Participating Countries of the Process to support and stand firm with Afghanistan during the Peace Process and the fight against COVID-19.
The statements of the representatives of Participating Countries, Supporting Countries and the Regional and International Organizations, as well as during the political consultation session, participants:
- Reaffirmed their support to Afghanistan in achieving peace, stability and development;
- Reiterated their commitment to the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process as a platform for promoting and supporting cooperation in the region;
- Underlined the uniqueness of the Heart of Asia - Istanbul Process as a comprehensive political dialogue platform among others and expressed the importance of continued discussions and consultations;
- Welcomed the regional cooperation during the pandemic situation;
- Emphasized on the importance of the new Agriculture Development Confidence Building Measure (CBM), and the proposed CBM of Women Empowerment to be developed;
- Outlined the importance of regional cooperation to address climate-change, disaster management and environmental protection;
- Outlined peace in Afghanistan as the guarantor for implementation of major regional economic projects such as CASA-1000, TAPI, TUTAP and railways;
- Stressed that the gains of the last 19 years, especially in the fields of human rights, women rights, rule of law and freedom of expression, must be preserved and strenghthened;
- Outlined countering-terrorism as a top priority for the countries of the region for the sake of economic developtment in the region;
- Emphasized the importance of Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process for sustainable peace and called for the start of negotiations between the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban Movement;
- Stressed on the importance of Reduction of Violence and humanitarian ceasefire that will result in permanent and comprehensive ceasefire;
- Emphasized that humanitarian ceasefire in Afghanistan is not only the demand of the Afghans but the world, as stressed upon in the UNSC Resolution;
- Appreciated the Republic of Tajikistan for its efforts and readiness to host the 9th Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process by the end of 2020, if the pandemic situation gets better.