External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to be on Central Asia visit next week

India’s External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar will be on a visit to Central Asia next week, his one-stop will be Tajikistan for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation or SCO Foreign ministers meet, and another will be Uzbekistan for connectivity meet.

The ministerial meeting of SCO will take place in Tajik Capital Dushanbe from 13th to 14th July. Afghanistan will be the key focus with SCO-Afghanistan FMs meet to happen on 14th July. Tajikistan is chair of the grouping which has 8 member states–Russia, China, India, Pakistan, and 4 central Asian countries–Tajikistan,  Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan.

The Dushanbe meet comes at a crucial time when the Taliban has been making rapid gains in the country territorially especially in north Afghanistan bordering Tajikistan. A few days ago over 1000 Afghan soldiers had fled Afghanistan and crossed over to Tajikistan as the Taliban made rapid advances.

Speaking in Moscow, EAM Jaishankar said, “we are concerned at the direction of events in Afghanistan..we must see a reduction in violence. Violence cannot be the solution for the situation in Afghanistan. Who governs Afghanistan has a legitimacy aspect which cannot and should not be ignored.”

Later, Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent will be buzzing as it hosts the international conference “Central and South Asia: Regional Interconnectedness. Challenges and Opportunities”. The summit, which will happen from 15th to 16th July, will have 3 common themes of discussion–Economic, Cultural, security- connectivity and aims to refresh historical ties. Leadership and representatives of Russia, Iran, Pakistan, China, the US, and the EU have also been invited to the summit.

Interestingly, Pakistani foreign minister SM Qureshi will also be present in both capitals for the same meetings as well. This is the 3rd time both FMs will be present in the same location at the same time this year. Earlier at the heart of Asia meet in Dushanbe, and bilateral visits to UAE, both were present in the same capital but no talks–formal or informal took place.

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