India, Australia 2+2 talks | ‘Afghan soil must not be used for terror’

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar with his Australian counterpart Marise Payne in New Delhi, September 11, 2021   | Photo Credit: PTI

The international community wants to ensure that Afghanistan can never again become a “safe haven” of terrorism, said Marise Payne, Foreign Minister of Australia.

Addressing the media after the inaugural “2+2” Minister-level meeting held here on Saturday, India and Australia displayed a common approach to the Afghan crisis with External Affairs Minister Jaishankar saying the policy is summed up by the Security Council Resolution 2593.

“We do share very strong interests in ensuring that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for breeding or training of terrorists and that is an abiding concern of the international community,” said Ms. Payne laying out the convergence of Indian and Australian policies towards the “interim government” that Taliban has set up in Kabul.

The comments about the Afghan scenario came in the backdrop of the Taliban cancelling a public event where its leaders were to take formal charge of the country.

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“Our approach is very similar. In a way, it is summed up by UN Security Council Resolution 2593, which emphasises most of all, Afghanistan must not allow its soil to be used in any manner by any body for terrorism,” said Mr. Jaishankar who avoided to describe the Taliban regime as a government and referred to it as a ‘dispensation’.

Lingering concern

The statements by the Ministers indicated the lingering concern about Taliban’s links with global terrorism, that was further amplified as the dialogue was held on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that Ms. Payne described as an attack not just on the U.S. but also on the “modern, pluralist, democratic world”.

The 2593 passed on August 30 ‘demands’ that Afghan territory should not be used to attack or threaten any other country. However, days after the resolution, Taliban’s spokesperson Suhail Shaheen said his organisation can raise issues concerning “Kashmir, India or any other country”. The remark indicated a trans-border agenda of the Taliban reminiscent of its previous government that was toppled after the 9/11 attacks.

Ms. Payne said the immediate concern of Australia was to ensure that those with visas of other countries wishing to leave Afghanistan should be allowed to do so ‘safely’. She said Afghanistan faces a humanitarian emergency because of a drought-like situation and displacement of domestic population.

“We are very conscious of the impact of violence and breaches of human rights of the Afghanistan community, and again call for the fundamentals of human rights to be observed,” said Ms. Payne urging the UN Food Programme and other relief organisations to ensure help for the war-affected citizens.

Accompanied by Defence Minister Peter Dutton for talks also with his counterpart Rajnath Singh, Ms. Payne focused on the erosion of the rights of women and young girls since the “fall of Kabul” on August 15. “I would also strongly reinforce Australia’s views in relation to the position of women and girls,” she said calling for safeguarding their rights that were promoted in the last two decades.

Mr. Singh and Mr. Dutton highlighted the maritime domain and urged for an “open and inclusive” Indo-Pacific region. “The important partnership between India and Australia is based on the shared vision of the Indo-Pacific region as a free, open, inclusive and prosperous domain,” said Mr. Singh who said both sides have agreed to collaborate on logistical support.

Increase in defence diplomatic representation

Mr. Dutton formally announced that Australia will invite India to the “Exercise Talisman Sabre” in 2023 and said Canberra will increase its defence diplomatic representation in New Delhi. He described the move as a “very significant and historic step”.

Mr. Jaishankar raised the difficulties faced by Indian students who secured admission in Australian universities but are unable to attend on-campus lectures because of COVID-19 related travel restrictions. Ms. Payne responded saying the restrictions would be lifted in phases and she would herself be present at the airport to welcome when the Indian students return to Australia.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 12:36:24 PM |

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