Afghanistan witnessed a series of terror attacks in the last few weeks as the US aimed to complete the withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan by August-end, ending a nearly two-decade of its military presence in the war-ravaged country.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar Thursday met Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani to discuss the evolving situation in the war-torn country and reiterated India’s support for peace, stability, and development in the country.

Jaishankar is on a visit to Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, as part of a Connectivity Conference, after attending a crucial meeting of foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Dushanbe. He met Ghani at the sidelines of the multilateral event.

Afghanistan witnessed a series of terror attacks in the last few weeks as the US aimed to complete the withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan by August-end, ending a nearly two-decade of its military presence in the country.

Earlier, Jaishankar had met his Afghan counterpart, Mohammad Haneef Atmar, in the Tajikistan capital and discussed the developments in Afghanistan amid global concerns over the Taliban rapidly seizing control of areas in the war-ravaged country.

Jaishankar also discussed the situation in Afghanistan with US Homeland Security Advisor Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall and US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad.

On Thursday, the SCO condemned the ongoing violence and terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, after a deliberation between foreign ministers of India, China, Pakistan, Russia, and other member countries of the eight-nation group. It called for a cessation of the violence, which according to the group, “remains a key factor of instability in that country.”

“We are deeply concerned by the growing tension in Afghanistan’s Northern Provinces caused by the increased concentration of various terrorist, separatist and extremist groups. We consider it important to step up joint efforts by SCO member states to counter terrorism, separatism and extremism,” a joint statement by the SCO said.

The statement came amid growing unrest in the country as the Taliban continues to make deeper inroads into Afghanistan. In the latest development, the militant group said Wednesday that they have seized a strategic border crossing with Pakistan.

With Taliban forces having advanced to within a few kilometres of Kandahar, India has evacuated Indian staff and personnel from its consulate in the southern Afghanistan city. New Delhi is watching the situation in Mazar-e-Sharif in the north of the country, where it has a consulate.

India has major stakes in ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan. It has invested nearly $ 3 billion in aid and reconstruction activities in the country. India has been supporting a national peace and reconciliation process which is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, and Afghan-controlled.

Jaishankar met his Bangladeshi counterpart Dr AK Abdul Momen as well, at the sidelines of the event, and called it a “good opportunity to review the progress in our ties, including its connectivity aspects.”

He began his Tashkent visit with the inauguration of the IT room of India-Uzbekistan Entrepreneurship Development Centre. It’s “a shining example of our Development Cooperation,” Jaishankar added.

With inputs from PTI

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