Transcript of intervention by PM Lee Hsien Loong at the G20 Extraordinary Leaders' Meeting on Afghanistan on 12 October 2021.
I thank Prime Minister Mario Draghi for Italy’s leadership in convening this meeting. The situation in Afghanistan is fragile and difficult. Immediate priority remains the safety and security of all civilians in the country. I hope all parties will refrain from violence and summon the political will to reach an early agreement on the way forward for the country, through peaceful and inclusive negotiations. This will not be easy, given the diversity of the Afghan people and culture, the vast and difficult terrain, and the weight of its history.
Singapore supports G20’s efforts to work with international and regional organisations, including the United Nations, to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan. As a small city-state, Singapore is happy to have played a modest role. We deployed an A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft to assist with the evacuation operations, transporting evacuees from Qatar to Germany.
While we address the pressing humanitarian problems, we should not neglect the security issues that prompted the international intervention in Afghanistan. Extremist terrorism knows no boundaries. In Singapore, after the 9/11 attacks, we discovered a terrorist group with a common ideology and direct links with Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. It was the Jemaah Islamiyah, which was planning multiple truck bomb attacks on targets in our country. Hence Singapore treated terrorism and the situation in Afghanistan as a common international security concern. We contributed to provincial reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, and to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). We are grateful to our ISAF partners for maintaining security in Afghanistan, and preventing terrorist groups from using Afghanistan as a safe haven these twenty long years. Despite this, and despite active counter-terrorism efforts by Southeast Asian governments, till today terrorism remains a real and continuing security threat in Southeast Asia.
Now that the ISAF operation has ended, I hope the new situation in Afghanistan does not again result in terrorist organisations using it as a safe base to inspire, build, and train groups throughout the region, and beyond.
I also hope that Afghanistan will have a government that will work with the international community to rebuild the country, and contribute to peace and stability in the region.
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