NEW DELHI - Leaders of the BRICS nations discussed Afghanistan at a virtual summit Thursday, with participants underscoring the importance of preventing terrorists from using Afghan soil to stage attacks on other countries.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted the five-nation group that comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The talks come weeks after the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan led to a geopolitical shift in Asia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, China’s President Xi Jinping, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro joined Modi for the online summit.
Speaking at the opening of the summit, Putin said the withdrawal of the United States and its allies from Afghanistan “has led to a new crisis” and the “entire international community will have to clear up the mess as a result.”
He said the situation stemmed from “irresponsible attempts to impose alien values from outside and this intention to build so-called democracy” without taking into account historical features and traditions resulting in “destabilization and chaos.”
In wrapping up the summit, the BRICS nations called for “refraining from violence and settling the situation by peaceful means to ensure stability in the country.”
Afghanistan is of major concern to three of the five countries in the group – Russia, India and China.
Putin said the country should not become a threat to its neighbors or a source of terrorism and drug trafficking.
In late August, the U.S. completed a withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan to end a 20-year war.
Observers say China and Russia will use the opportunity to step into the void left by the U.S., although Moscow is wary of the Islamist ideology of the Taliban and the threat posed by foreign militant groups to Central Asia.
New Delhi, meanwhile, finds itself isolated with the takeover by the Taliban, which has long been an anti-India group. New Delhi has emphasized that its main concern is about Afghan territory being used by terror groups that target India such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad.
The group adopted what it called a Counter Terrorism Action Plan and said in its declaration, "We stress the need to contribute to fostering an inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue so as to ensure stability, civil peace, law and order in the country."
The statement also emphasized the need to address the humanitarian situation and to uphold human rights, including those of children, women and minorities.
The summit, held for a second year in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, expressed “regret” at the glaring inequity in access to vaccines, especially for the most vulnerable populations, and highlighted the need for access to affordable shots for the world’s poorest.
The declaration also said cooperation on the study of the origins of the coronavirus is an important aspect of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The coronavirus causes COVID-19.
The BRICS group was formed to enhance cooperation among the world’s major emerging economies, which account for 40% of the global population and 25% of global gross domestic product. Their first summit was held in 2009.
Source: Voice of America