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China, Russia-led blocs to meet on Afghanistan

2021-09-15 HKT 22:20
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  • Foreign and defence ministers gather for a meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation in Tajikistan. Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP
    Foreign and defence ministers gather for a meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation in Tajikistan. Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP
Countries allied with China and Russia were preparing for a series of meetings on Afghanistan on Wednesday held in the crisis-hit country's neighbour, Tajikistan.

Beijing and Moscow have moved to assert themselves as key players in the region, after the United States' hasty retreat from Afghanistan and the Taliban's takeover of the country.

Two regional security blocs led by Beijing and Moscow are holding summits in the capital of ex-Soviet Tajikistan, Dushanbe, this week along with other countries attending as observers and guests.

Afghanistan, already heavily dependent on aid, is facing a new economic crisis in the aftermath of the Taliban's takeover, with the new authorities unable to pay salaries as food prices soar.

Its neighbours are wary of the threat of a sustained refugee crisis, as well as of spillover violence if the Taliban fail to control extremist groups with whom they were allied in the past.

At a pre-summit meeting on Wednesday, the general secretary of the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation(CSTO), Stanislav Zas, called for more humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.

The eight-member Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), headed by China, is also due to meet in Dushanbe this week, with some countries belonging to both blocs.

Founded in 2001, the SCO consisted of China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan before India and Pakistan joined the group in 2017.

Iran, whose president Ebrahim Raisi is expected in Dushanbe Friday, is also keen to join.

President Xi Jinping, Russia's Vladimir Putin, and India's Narendra Modi are all attending the SCO summit virtually. (AFP)