Delhi to host two international meets on Afghanistan

New Delhi, Jan 15: The Indian capital will host two back-to-back global conclaves on Afghanistan from Thursday, ahead of the drawdown of international forces this year and with the US and Afghanistan still to ink a key security agreement.

The International Contact Group (ICG) on Afghanistan and Pakistan, a group of 53 countries, will meet Thursday.

S.K. Lambah, the prime minister’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, is the Indian representative at the meet.

On Friday, senior officials involved with the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan, which is also called the Heart of Asia process, would be meeting here.

This will be the 10th meeting of senior officials who are focused on the Heart of Asia process. Fourteen member states, 16 supporting members, and 11 international organisations have been invited for the meet.

Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh would represent India at this meeting and would be assisted by Joint Secretary (Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran) Rudrendra Tandon.

The ICG on Afghanistan and Pakistan held its first meeting in Munich in April 2009 with only eight countries as members, including India.

The group is chaired by the German special representative. Earlier, the ICG was known as the Group of Special Representatives on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Lambah attends the meetings of the ICG.

The ICG discusses major developments on Afghanistan, including security, political and economic transitions in Afghanistan and the reconciliation process.

The Istanbul Process covers all countries from Afghanistan’s near and extended neighbourhood. There are 14 member countries — Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and UAE. Uzbekistan was a member country till recently when it decided to withdraw itself from the process.

The 16 supporting countries include Australia, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, Britain and the US.

The 11 regional and international organisations supporting the Istanbul Process include the UN, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the European Union (EU) and Asian Development Bank (ADB).

IANS