India on Sunday pitched for finding ways to help the Afghan people, while reaffirming the need for an inclusive government in Kabul.
In his opening remarks at the third India-Central Asia Dialogue, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that there is a need to ensure unhindered humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.
The dialogue, hosted by India in Delhi, is being attended by foreign ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
"We all share deep rooted historical and civilisational ties with Afghanistan. Our concerns and objectives in that country are similar," Mr Jaishankar said.
He listed a truly inclusive and representative government, the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking, ensuring unhindered humanitarian assistance and preserving the rights of women, children and minorities as key priorities in Afghanistan.
"We must find ways of helping the people of Afghanistan," he said.
Mr Jaishankar said India is committed to take its ties with the Central Asia to the next level.
He floated a 'four C' approach focusing on commerce, capacity enhancement, connectivity and contacts to further expand the cooperation between the two sides.
"Our meeting today comes amid a rapidly changing global economic and political situation. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted an enormous setback to global health and to global economy," Mr Jaishankar said.
"It has changed the way we imagined societies, supply chains and governance. It also highlighted the inadequacies of multilateral structures to meet new and emerging threats," he said.
The external affairs minister underlined the need for having diversified supply chains and more regional solutions to various challenges.
"India will be your steadfast partner," he said.
In the last few years, India has been focusing on expanding overall cooperation with the energy-rich Central Asian countries, considering them to be part of its extended neighbourhood.
The upswing in India's engagement with the region followed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's whirlwind tour of the five countries in July 2015 that resulted in the expansion of two-way ties in a range of areas.
The recent developments in Afghanistan reinforced the importance of the Central Asian countries with three of them -- Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan -- sharing borders with the war-torn nation.
The national security advisors of all the five Central Asian countries attended an India-hosted regional dialogue on Afghanistan on November 10. NSAs of Russia and Iran also participated in it.
The second meeting of the India-Central Asia dialogue was organised by India in October last year in digital video-conference format.
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