ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Karzai seeks more support from neighbors on security. DAILY NEWS photo
Fourteen countries involved in Afghanistan, including neighbors China,
Pakistan and India, have agreed to an initiative called the “Istanbul process,”
which aims for regional security cooperation, according to a joint
Officials from countries involved will work on the measures in order to
create joint regional projects, while the outcome will be presented to the
ministerial meeting of the initiative in Kabul next June.
“We have [created] the Istanbul process, which sets forth concrete mechanisms
and proposals, including confidence-building measures,” Foreign Minister Ahmet
Davutoğlu said yesterday in a joint press conference with his Afghan
counterpart, Zalmai Rassoul.
Afghanistan requested that the initiative evolve into an agreement which
would be binding for participant countries but some other regional countries
preferred to move at a slower pace, a Turkish Foreign Ministry official told the
Hürriyet Daily News.
The process would evolve gradually and regional countries will decide where
it will lead, the Turkish diplomat said.
Representatives from 20 countries and international organizations gathered in
Istanbul yesterday aiming to chart the way ahead for Afghanistan. A U.S.-led
NATO mission to the country is scheduled to pull out all foreign combat troops
by the end of 2014.
“To realize the potentials of regional economic cooperation that is so
crucial for the future, the region must come together in cooperation and
solidarity to a degree that is not yet achieved. Today in Istanbul we are coming
together to subscribe to a new vision of regional cooperation,” Afghan President
Hamid Karzai said at opening ceremony of the conference.
“There will be no hope for peace in Afghanistan without help from its
neighbors to combat ‘terror groups,’” he said.
Karzai asked for Islamabad’s support to get the top Taliban leadership based
in Pakistan to join the peace process on Afghanistan. “Our hope is is that with
help of our brothers in Pakistan, we’ll manage to [wean] the leadership of
Taliban off some of the long-established network support that is enjoyed outside
of Afghanistan and integrate them into the peace process,” the Afghan leader
document for the "Istanbul Process on Regional Security and Cooperation for a
Secure and Stable Afghanistan" may be found here:
‘Afghanistan can’t fight alone’
The bundle of issues Afghanistan is dealing with, including terrorism,
extremism and human and drug smuggling, cannot be solved by a single country
alone, Turkish President Abdullah Gül said.
The statement mentions on cooperation on border security, combating against
terror and all kinds of extremism based on violence, measures against human and
drug trafficking, along with economic and cultural collaboration and visa
facilitation. References to radicalism will be removed from education
curriculums, according to the declaration.
“Resolutely combating and eliminating terrorism in all its forms and
manifestations and violent extremism and preventing safe havens for terrorists
and terrorism in the region” is among the principles of the declaration.
The declaration also condemned the killing of former Afghan President and
peace envoy Burhanuddin Rabbani.
The conference took place a day after a trilateral summit hosted by Gül
brought together the presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan in a bid to ease
tensions between the two neighbors. Talks on Nov. 1 saw Afghanistan and Pakistan
agree to cooperate with an investigation committee, including Turkey’s presence,
into the assassination of Rabbani.
Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, with the participation of
their military and intelligence chiefs, had a dinner on Nov. 1, a first since
tension rose between the two neighbors, a Turkish diplomatic source said.
Absent from yesterday’s conference was U.S. Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton, who canceled her participation after her 92-year-old mother died. Her
deputy William Burns took her place.
On the sidelines of the conference, Davutoğlu had bilateral meetings with
several ministers, including his Iranian counterpart.