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Top Afghan Diplomat Meets Indian, Pakistani Counterparts Prior To SCO Meeting

Afghan Foreign Minister met his Indian and Pakistani counterparts ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) – Afghanistan Contact Group meeting in Dushanbe.

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On July 14, the Tajik capital will host the SCO foreign ministers’ meeting and a special session with Atmar as part of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group.

“[I] began my Dushanbe visit by meeting with Afghan FM @MHaneefAtmar. Appreciate his update on recent developments. Looking forward to the meeting of the SCO Contact Group on Afghanistan tomorrow,” Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar wrote on Twitter.

S Jaishankar, Shah Mahmood Qureshi may meet on Afghan talks sidelines this month | India News,The Indian Express
S Jaishankar, Shah Mahmood Qureshi may meet on Afghan talks sidelines this month at SCO

Mohammad Haneef Atmar, the Afghan foreign minister, also held negotiations with his Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mahmood Hussain Qureshi, “to discuss strengthening regional cooperation for the success of the Afghan Peace Process, Pakistan’s practical engagement on the joint fight against terrorism, and ensuring lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region,” the Afghan foreign ministry reported.

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Qureshi, in his turn, said that Pakistan will continue efforts to stabilize the situation in the neighboring country, the ministry added.

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Afghanistan is seeing a spike in violence from the Taliban as international troops are gradually being withdrawn from the country. The troop pullout was one of the points of agreement the Taliban and the United States reached in Doha in February of last year.

The Pentagon said that the US has withdrawn over 95% of American military personnel and equipment from Afghanistan.

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“US Central Command estimates that we have completed more than 95% of the entire withdrawal process,” CENTCOM said in a release.

President Joe Biden has said that he expects the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan to be completed by August 31. However, the official deadline was set for September 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States that sparked the war.

The Defense Department recently transferred leadership of the US troops in Afghanistan to CENTCOM Commander Gen. Frank McKenzie. Defense officials have said McKenzie will retain the same authorities as his predecessor, including the ability to direct airstrikes against the Taliban or against other threats.

Earlier, Mohammad Haneef Atmar set off for the Tajik capital of Dushanbe to take part in a two-day meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) contact group.

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“Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, heading a high-level delegation, left for Tajikistan this morning to attend the Fourth Meeting of the Afghanistan Contact Group within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization framework,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“The meeting is aimed at discussing Afghanistan’s membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, SCO’s cooperation with Afghanistan in the joint fight against terrorism and extremism, and the security situation in Afghanistan and its repercussions on regional stability and prosperity,” the ministry added.

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