ISTANBUL, TURKEY - DECEMBER 9: President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan (5th R) poses for a photo with participants during 8th Ministerial Conference of Heart of Asia - Istanbul Process to convene under theme of Peace, Partnership, Prosperity in Istanbul, Turkey on December 9, 2019.
 ( Emrah Yorulmaz - Anadolu Agency )

Erdogan: Turkey to do its best to eradicate Daesh/ISIS terror group in Afghanistan

Monitoring Desk

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the international community on Monday to boost investments in Afghanistan during “sensitive” times the country has been going through.

Erdogan’s remarks came at the 8th Ministerial Conference of Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process convened at Dolmabahce Palace under Peace, Partnership, Prosperity theme.

“Afghanistan has been going through a sensitive period. As international community, we need to boost the investments we have been making for Afghanistan for the last 18 years,” Erdogan said.

Erdogan stressed that a significant number of the problems faced by the people in South Asia were arising from outside of their borders and said that people in this region had to struggle with the negative impacts of the developments that had “nothing to do with them.”

He also emphasized regional cooperation to tackle problems South Asia region has been facing.

“I believe that the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process is also very useful and effective in providing regional support for peace,” he said.

He said the Istanbul Process was providing an exemplary regional cooperation model which enables the regional problems to be dealt with in solidarity.

The Turkish president noted the importance of supporting Afghanistan to prevent terror organizations from regrouping in the country. He added that Turkey would do its best to eradicate Daesh/ISIS terror group in Afghanistan.

Underlining the significance of the private sector, Erdogan said it will play a key role in economic and social development of Afghanistan adding that Turkey welcomes the steps accordingly.

He recalled the NATO meeting in London last week and said member countries reiterated their commitments to continue contributing to security in Afghanistan.

Erdogan called on NATO countries to continue their support for Afghanistan, and vowed that Turkey would maintain its support for the country in economic, commercial and social fields as well as in increasing the capacity of the country’s army and the police forces.

Erdogan said while the international community was committed to its pledges to Afghanistan, it is important that the Afghan government also fulfills its obligations.

“We welcome the positive steps taken by the Afghan government in the implementation of the Mutual Accountability Framework adopted in Geneva last year,” Erdogan said.

The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process — a regional initiative of Afghanistan and Turkey launched in 2011 — has two chairs with Afghanistan as the permanent chair, and a co-chair from among the member states that shifts each year.

“The process aims to promote regional security, economic and political cooperation centered on Afghanistan through dialogue and confidence building measures,” according to the organization’s website.

In his address, Afghanistan’s president said that people of his country are optimistic about their future as he called for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process to succeed.

Ashraf Ghani said that his government had offered an unconditional dialogue to Taliban two years ago after “sensing urgency and mood of his people”. “A successful ceasefire during June 2018 was an initial step in building trust and allowing our people to imagine that end of violence is a possibility,” he said. In order to achieve sustainable peace, Ghani said, there is a need of coordinated efforts from regional and international actors.

“We must make sure that we complete the off-the table critical work now for successful negotiations on the table,” he said, adding national consensus and engaging all sections of society was imperative for a lasting peace in Afghanistan.

Thanking Turkey for its role for the security of Afghanistan since 2001, Ghani said that his government succeeded in freeing 10 of its districts from Daesh terrorists in the last one year.

“Daesh wanted to capture Tora-Bora caves […] 1,442 Daesh terrorists have surrendered to our forces that led an intense air campaign,” he told the conference.

“Our threats are shared which demand regional counter-mechanism,” he said, adding that the region lacked the system of risk assessment and management.

“Scale of counter-terrorism needs to be expanded,” Ghani said. Thanking Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan, Ghani said that bilateral relations between Afghanistan and Turkey are “deep, broad-based and enduring”.

The Afghanistan president said that he had also made an offer of “economic cooperation” to Pakistan.

“On my last trip to Pakistan, I offered the vision of economic cooperation and articulated the willingness of large scale cooperation  we are both members of the of the World Trade Organization, our shared goal is tied according to rules of that organization. I look forward to fruitful cooperation in the future,” he added.

Iran’s foreign minister on Monday called on people of Afghanistan — including Taliban — to come together and decide about future of their country. “The end game in Afghanistan is for all Afghans themselves, including the Taliban and Afghan government. All Afghan forces [should] come together, without external interference, and decide about the future of their country,” Javad Zarif told Anadolu Agency on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process conference. Zarif said that the countries in the region should facilitate the Afghan peace process. “We should not try to dictate, and certainly people from outside our region should not be dictating,” he said.

“We [Iran] encourage all Afghans to engage with each other for a peaceful solution that is focus of discussions with Taliban,” Zarif said when asked about Iran’s hosting of Taliban delegations with regard to Afghan peace process. “They (Taliban) insisted that they agree with us (Iran) on this, and we will continue to talk to Taliban and others on the same principle,” he added.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has underscored the need for achieving the goal of a secure and stable Afghanistan for the economic progress and prosperity of the entire region.

Addressing the 8th Ministerial meeting of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process at Istanbul in Turkey on Monday, the Foreign Minister said that neither any nation could claim to have stronger and more historic bonds with Afghanistan nor any country was more desirous of peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan than Pakistan. He said that Pakistan continued to host over 3 million Afghan refugees for the last four decades, and has been playing a critical role for the development and reconstruction of Afghanistan, including by committing over 1 billion dollars in development assistance. He highlighted the importance of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) as an important institutional framework in strengthening bilateral relations between the two sides.

The Foreign Minister underlined that recent resumption of efforts for reaching peace and stability in Afghanistan was a positive development. He expressed Pakistan’s wish to see the peace process lead to inclusive intra-Afghan negotiations. He, at the same time, cautioned against the “spoilers” in view of their vested interests. He urged the international community to seize the opportunity for achieving lasting peace in Afghanising by reaching a broad regional and international consensus.

Later, speaking at a joint news conference with Afghanistan’s acting Foreign Minister Idrees Zaman, Mevlut Cavusoglu said Afghanistan has been going through a “sensitive time”.

Turkey and NATO will continue supporting Afghanistan as long as Kabul seeks their help, the Turkish foreign minister said.

He said some international attempts for peace in Afghanistan have failed and voiced hope that the efforts would activate a positive process among Afghans.

“We will maintain our presence and support in Afghanistan as long as it needs Turkey and NATO,” Cavusoglu added.

Zaman, for his part, said: “I appreciate the time and energy put together and invested by the participating countries and by the political support that we have received from our Turkish brothers in a critical time in our history.”

On the one hand Afghanistan is pursuing the peace process and peace talks, and on the other hand it is waiting for the results of historic elections that it had a few weeks ago, Zaman stressed.

Zaman underlined that this election was different from the elections in the past as it was completely managed by the Afghan officials at the Independent Election Commission, and security of the election was taken over and covered by Afghan defense and security forces. (AA)

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