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Introductory Remarks by Ambassador Sujan R. Chinoy at 5th India-Iran-Afghanistan Trilateral Dialogue

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  • Amb. Sujan R. Chinoy
    March 31, 2021
    Introductory Remarks by Ambassador Sujan R. Chinoy,
    Director General, MP-IDSA
      5th India-Iran-Afghanistan Trilateral Dialogue (Virtual)
    31 March 2021

    Dr. Seyed Kazem Sajjadpour, President of IPIS, Iran,
    Dr. Davood Moradian, Director General of the AISS, Afghanistan,
    Ladies and Gentlemen,
    Good afternoon. Happy Navrooz.

    It is a privilege for me to participate in today’s webinar. It is good to be back among friends. Thank you, Dr. Moradian, for hosting today’s event, and it is so good to see Dr. Sajjadpour with us, looking hale and hearty. As you all know, the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies (AISS) and the Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS) of Iran are long-standing partners of our Institute. I recall the last Trilateral Dialogue that we had hosted in New Delhi in the pre-pandemic times in June 2019. The theme of that dialogue ‘Agenda for Future India-Iran-Afghanistan Cooperation’ was as relevant then as it is today.

    I am glad that we are continuing the tradition of conducting our trilateral meetings during these difficult times, albeit in a virtual form. Hopefully, the situation will improve over time for us to have the next round in person.

    Friends, the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated lives and livelihood all around the world. An already divided global community stands further divided today over trade, technology, territorial disputes and the tenets that should shape the post-pandemic world.

    The arrival of vaccines has given all of us new hope. If humankind cooperates, there is a better chance of overcoming the catastrophic effects of the pandemic and recovering economic growth in an inclusive manner. The vulnerable among us that have fewer resources will still have to guard against the lure of easy finance and debt trap diplomacy.

    Friends, Afghanistan is still in the throes of a difficult transition. Last September, the External Affairs Minister of India Dr. S. Jaishankar addressed the Afghan peace negotiations at Doha. Russia, India and Iran held a tri-lateral meeting on Afghanistan in Moscow in November last year. There has been a condemnable spike in violence since then. The intra-Afghan dialogue has not made sufficient progress. 19 years of war have left tens of thousands dead.

    India has been supportive of all the efforts made by the Afghan government to have a dialogue with the Taliban in the context of intra-Afghan negotiations.

    The lofty goal of building an enduring architecture for peace and progress is vital for the people of Afghanistan. It is equally vital for others, especially its neighbours. Minister Jaishankar said at the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process meeting in Dushanbe yesterday that Afghanistan requires a “double peace”, that is peace within Afghanistan and peace around Afghanistan and that the interests of all need to be harmonised. He also pointed out that the situation in Afghanistan continues to be cause for grave concern and that India supports a regional process under the aegis of the UN to achieve a sustainable political settlement and comprehensive ceasefire in Afghanistan.

    In order to achieve this, the Taliban should eschew violence for the sake of national reconstruction. It must sever its links with all terrorist outfits which threaten regional and global peace and security. It should cooperate in putting into place a sustainable ceasefire.

    Democratic institutions in Afghanistan are still nascent, and must be preserved. There has been considerable progress in protecting the rights of women and minorities. This achievement too must be preserved. It will permit the Afghan nation to draw more fully upon the rich talent and potential of all its citizens.

    Terrorism in our region remains a potent force. It is imperative that the world stands as one against terrorism. The prospect of fundamentalist and extremist groups once again suppressing the aspirations of the Afghan people and forcing Afghanistan back into the past must be resisted by the Afghan people. The Afghan people do not wish to rear their children in an atmosphere dominated by violence, terrorist sanctuaries, illicit drug production and organised crime. They deserve a better future.

    India’s role in promoting connectivity, especially an air corridor, has been lauded by the Afghan government at Dushanbe. India has been a major developmental partner for Afghanistan with more than 400 projects across 34 provinces, involving an outlay of over US $ 3 billion.

    As the world’s largest producer and exporter of vaccines, India has leapt to assist countries around the world through its Vaccine Maitri (Friendship) initiative to fight COVID-19. Afghanistan and Iran are among those countries.

    There are multiple opportunities for India, Iran and Afghanistan to work together on the basis of our shared interests. Healthcare and capacity-building projects should be at the top of the list. Tele-medicine and tele-education should also be explored, given the constraints on travel imposed by the pandemic.

    India and Iran are on the same page in building new connectivity nodes in the region that would provide greater access to and from Central Asia and Afghanistan. The development of the Shahid Beheshti port in Chabahar is the key to the success of tri-lateral between India, Iran and Afghanistan.

    India and Iran have warm and friendly ties that go back centuries. Over the last few years, we have sought to strengthen our partnership. Bilateral visits at the apex level have provided momentum to our ties. The recent visit of Iran’s Defence Minister to India to attend the Aero India 2021 exhibition - the first such visit in 40 years - will deepen mutual understanding and cooperation in new areas. Iran is a key pillar of India’s Look and Think West policy.

    I am confident that new perspectives will emerge at today’s webinar. Let us work together to build a robust India-Iran-Afghanistan partnership, and, a better future for the people of Afghanistan.

    Thank you.