Afghanistan’s neighbours gather in Tehran to discuss its future

Senior officials of Afghanistan’s neighbouring states have gathered in Iran’s capital for a one-day conference to discuss the situation in the Taliban-ruled country.

The foreign ministers of Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan met on Wednesday in Tehran, joined by their counterparts from China and Russia via video link.

Iranian First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber inaugurated the meeting, replacing President Ebrahim Raisi who was unable to do so due to “another urgent priority”. The conference came a day after Iran’s online petrol distribution software was hacked in a massive cyberattack that affected petrol stations across the country.

Mokhber told the conference that the “defeat of American policies” in Afghanistan does not mean that the United States is abandoning its “destructive” policies across the region.

ISIL (ISIS), which Mokhber referred to as the “US proxy force in the region”, has now targeted security in Afghanistan with the aim of instigating a civil war, he added.

He was followed by the United Nations chief, Antonio Guterres, who said in a video link address recorded in New York that Afghanistan is facing an “epic humanitarian crisis” which demands immediate action. He said the UN is engaging the Taliban, which has so far provided access, to deliver humanitarian relief to people.

Guterres also said he is “deeply disturbed” by violations of human rights and attacks in the country since the Taliban takeover, and called for efforts to “combat terrorism” and drug trafficking.

All seven foreign ministers delivered a public address before retreating to a private meeting to agree on a joint statement.