Rassoul Drums up Regional Support for Peace Drive
KABUL – Pursuing a comprehensive effort for a political solution to the ongoing conflict, the Afghan government on Friday urged Pakistan to lend its full weight to the Kabul-led reconciliation process. “What we need now is honest and practical support of outside stakeholders, particularly of Pakistan. We hope that such support will be forthcoming in the weeks and months ahead…” Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul said.
Addressing Heart of Asia Conference participants in Almaty, the minister Afghanistan was keeping its international and regional partners engaged on peace efforts, including on the possibility of establishing a negotiations office for Taliban in Qatar. On economic transition, he said Kabul thanked the international community’s substantial aid pledges at the Tokyo Conference last July to fill the projected fiscal gap in the Afghan budget through the Decade of Transformation from 2015 to 2024.
The Karzai government was taking necessary steps to ensure inclusive and credible elections, the minister said, adding the success of the polls would strengthen Afghanistan’s young democracy and entrench the gains of the past decade. “Our collective success in Afghanistan on the transition process, peace and reconciliation efforts, elections and the economic transition will have a defining impact on our shared vision of enhancing regional cooperation,” he said, according to the text of his speech released by the foreign ministry.
It has been 17 months since the landmark launch of the Istanbul Process in Turkey under Turkish leadership, the active participation of the Heart of Asia countries as well as their ownership of the process and the strong backing of our important supporters.
“But if we remind ourselves of the much longer history of deep divisions in our region, the complexity of advancing result-oriented cooperation and then compare that with what we have achieved since that first ministerial conference in Istanbul on November 2, 2011, we can confidently claim that we’ve come a long way,” he remarked. While thanking Kazakhstan for hosting the third ministerial meeting, he said Afghanistan attached enormous importance to its relationship with the neighbour.
He especially thanked President Nursultan Nazarbayev for his personal support to the people of Afghanistan, including the provision of humanitarian aid and 1000 scholarships for Afghan students. Rassoul invited Kazakh businessmen and companies to take advantage of the exciting investment opportunities offered by Afghanistan, including in the highly profitable fields of mining, agriculture, trade and transit. (PAN)