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Uzbekistan says in close contact with Taliban, warns over border violations

Published: Updated:

Afghanistan’s neighbor Uzbekistan said that it was in close contact with the Taliban Tuesday and warned it would “strictly suppress” any attempts to violate its borders after the group effectively seized power.

Ex-Soviet Uzbekistan, one of three Central Asian countries bordering Afghanistan, released the statement after days of mayhem that saw Afghan troops illegally cross over into the republic while fleeing the Taliban’s advance amid the pullout of US-led forces.

Uzbekistan’s foreign ministry said that it supported the pledge of “internal Afghan forces” for an inclusive government and said Tashkent was “looking forward to achieving a comprehensive peace in the framework of the inter-Afghan talks in Doha.”

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The ministry said it was in talks with the Taliban “on issues of ensuring the protection of borders and maintaining calm in the border zone.”

Central Asian countries have watched with alarm as the government in Kabul collapsed in a matter of days.

Neighboring Tajikistan said Monday it had allowed over 100 Afghan military members to land at Bokhtar airport in the south of the country, Russian news agencies Interfax and RIA Novosti reported.

RIA Novosti reported that three planes carrying the soldiers had landed in Bokhtar on Monday night.

Tajikistan is the only Central Asian country bordering Afghanistan that is yet to hold official talks with the Taliban.

Its interior ministry said Monday that it will be holding joint military exercises with China to “combat terrorism in mountainous areas” from August 17 to 20.

Both Uzbekistan and Tajikistan earlier this month hosted Russia-led military drills near their borders with Afghanistan.

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