I am pleased to send greetings to all participants at the third Ministerial Meeting of the Istanbul Process. I especially thank the leaders of Kazakhstan for hosting.
This gathering is a testament to the commitment, hard work and success of the Heart of Asia countries, the leadership of the Afghan Government and the positive engagement of the supporting countries. In this time of transition, the Istanbul Process plays a crucial role in bringing together Heart of Asia countries for political consultations on the situation in Afghanistan and the region to enhance mutual cooperation.
I welcome progress on the agreed confidence-building measures. I am pleased that 11 United Nations entities have committed to support their implementation.
Through the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, I am pleased to see the Istanbul Process turning global UN policies, such as the Counter-Terrorism Strategy, into action. I encourage progressive mainstreaming of the work of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime into the Counter-Narcotics confidence-building measure.
The region is prone to natural and man-made disasters. A regional approach is key to building the capacity of national authorities to better respond.
The Istanbul Process also focuses on creating vital opportunities in education and economic development for the people of the region, including for women and children.
Through this important process, the Heart of Asia countries aim to improve coherence among the many regional mechanisms and organizations that work on Afghanistan. I am glad to see participating countries increasing the synergies between the Istanbul Process and other initiatives, including the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has been part of this process since its inception and stands ready to continue to provide support.
The Istanbul Process is a catalyst for a stronger Afghanistan and Heart of Asia.
I thank you for your commitment to work together for stability, prosperity and peace.
In that spirit, I wish you a most productive meeting.