Member nations of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) have spoken out in favor of stepping up their activities to fight extremism and prevent conflict situations in Afghanistan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters on the sidelines of the SCO foreign ministers meeting in Beijing on April 24.

Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions were posted on the official websites of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.     

“Our discussions on combatting extremism and drug trafficking were focused on the situation in Afghanistan and around it.  All of us are concerned about the strengthening of extremists, primarily from the so-called Islamic State, who enter Afghanistan via Iraq and Syria and are becoming entrenched in Afghanistan’s northern provinces, which border on our allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).  This certainly means that we must redouble our efforts to preclude the proliferation of conflicts from Afghanistan and to promote a political settlement of the Afghan crisis,” Russian minister said.

According to him, they expressed our support for the results of the Tashkent conference on Afghanistan, which was held in the capital of Uzbekistan in late March.  All those who participated in that conference supported the launch of direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban movement while preventing ISIS from recruiting Taliban members, Lavrov noted.

“We reaffirmed our resolve to promote an active involvement of all Afghanistan’s neighbors in these efforts.  We advocated this policy during the Moscow format meetings.  The SCO is a convenient natural platform for promoting a settlement in Afghanistan, because Afghanistan and all its neighbors have either full membership or observer status in this organization.  In light of this, the participants in our discussions today welcomed the resumption of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group.  Its previous meeting was held in Moscow last autumn, and its next meeting is scheduled to be held in Beijing in mid-May,” Lavrov said.