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Meeting of the International Contact Group on Afghanistan - Chair’s Summary
Istanbul, Turkey, 5 June 2016
1. Members of the International Contact Group (ICG) met on 5 June 2016 in Istanbul to discuss the political, security, and economic situation in Afghanistan. The Deputy Foreign Minister of Turkey, Mr. Ümit Yalçın, and the Deputy Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, Mr. Hekmat Khalil Karzai, opened the meeting, which was chaired by Ambassador Sabine Sparwasser, ICG Chairperson and German Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, International Contact Group Member States and multilateral organizations, including the United Nations, NATO, the EU, OIC and ADB, as well as representatives of Afghan civil society and the EastWest Institute attended the meeting.
2. ICG members acknowledged progress towards the implementation of the „Self-Reliance through Mutual Accountability Framework“ (SMAF) and preparations for Afghanistan’s National Development framework to be presented at the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan on 4-5 October. Development partners stressed that, in order to sustain assistance at or near the current exceptional levels, further tangible results would be needed especially in the areas of electoral and constitutional reform, good governance and anti-corruption measures, and human rights, notably the rights of women and children. On migration, ICG members took note of Afghanistan’s commitment to honour its international obligations regarding the readmission of its nationals and underlined the critical importance of functioning cooperation in this field. ICG members commended efforts by the Government of National Unity against corruption, including the initiatives to establish a High Council on Good Governance, Reforms and Fighting Corruption as well as an Anti-Corruption Justice Centre, and supported their early operationalization.
3. ICG members recognized improvements in the performance of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) at the beginning of this fighting season, including in leadership, coordination, and capacities of the special forces and air force. They noted that international training, advice and assistance remained necessary and effective and that NATO had committed to extend its Resolute Support Mission beyond 2016. Looking ahead to the Warsaw NATO Summit on 8-9 July, ICG members stressed the importance of continuing international support at or near current levels through 2020 for sustaining the ANDSF. ICG members called on all political forces in Afghanistan to offer united support to the ANDSF. Emphasizing the importance of a growing commitment by the countries of the region to Afghanistan’s security and stability, ICG members welcomed the initiatives by the government of Afghanistan to develop a common counterterrorism strategy in the framework of the „Heart of Asia - Istanbul Process“ and to host a regional security conference in Kabul.
4. ICG members reaffirmed their support for efforts towards an inclusive Afghan-led and Afghanowned peace process, including by the countries of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group. They commended the ongoing talks between the government of Afghanistan and Hizb-e Islami (Gulbuddin Hekmatyar), which reinforced the credibility of a political process as the only viable path towards a sustainable resolution of the conflict. ICG members welcomed the continuing readiness of the Government of National Unity to enter into peace talks with the Taliban without preconditions and echoed the call on the new leadership of the Taliban to make use of this opportunity. They also underlined the importance for the region to rally behind the Afghan people’s endeavour for a peace process.
5. ICG members expressed their conviction that regional connectivity holds the key for a prosperous future of a peaceful Afghanistan and its neighbours. They highlighted the potential of regional trade as well as transport and energy infrastructures within the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference (RECCA) framework and looked forward to a discussion of related opportunities at the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, the „Heart of Asia - Istanbul Process Ministerial Conference“ in New Delhi in December and the Seventh RECCA in Ashgabat in 2017.
6. The Contact Group thanked the Government of Turkey for its hospitality in hosting this meeting. ICG members paid tribute to the outgoing Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Afghanistan, Mr. Nicholas Haysom. On behalf of the Government of Germany, the Chair thanked ICG members for their continued dedication to international and regional efforts to support Afghanistan, noting the enduring commitment of the Afghan Government to its obligations under the “Self-Reliance through Mutual Accountability Framework”.