Chinese FM says Pakistan, Afghanistan have agreed to mend strained relations
Khawaja Asif asserts that peace is collective goal of Pakistan, China, Afghanistan
BEIJING: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Tuesday China and Pakistan will look at extending their $57 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan.
Speaking after the first trilateral meeting between the foreign ministers of China, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Wang said China hoped the economic corridor could benefit the whole region and act as an impetus for development.
“So China and Pakistan are willing to look at with Afghanistan, on the basis of win-win, mutually beneficial principles, using an appropriate means to extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan,” he added.
How that could happen needs the three countries to reach a gradual consensus, tackling easier, smaller projects first, Wang said, without giving details.
According to a joint press release, the foreign ministers of the three regional nations at a meeting in Beijing, also agreed to strengthen counter-terrorism coordination and cooperation in an effort to combat all terrorist organisations and individuals without any discrimination.
“The three countries [Pakistan, China, and Afghanistan] are united to defeat terrorism in the region. Both Pakistan and China want peace in Afghanistan,” Wang said.
“Pakistan and China are in favour of talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, Wang added, inviting the Taliban to be a part of the regional peace process. For peace in region, he said, it is important to eliminate terrorism.
The Chinese foreign minister stressed that “dialogue is a natural phenomenon between the three countries and we are working towards maintaining security in the region”.
The joint press release of the meeting said that the three sides reaffirmed that a broad-based and inclusive peace and reconciliation process, which is “Afghan-led, Afghan-own”, and fully supported regionally and internationally, is the most viable solution to end the violence in Afghanistan.
The three sides agreed to strengthen counter-terrorism coordination and cooperation in an effort to combat all terrorist organisations and individuals without any discrimination. The countries are expected to communicate and develop a memorandum of understanding on counter-terrorism cooperation.
The three sides also reiterated their commitment to improving their relations, deepening mutually beneficial cooperation and advance connectivity under the Belt and Road Initiative, the press release said.
The three countries also agreed to conduct win-win trilateral economic cooperation, with an incremental approach, starting from the easier initiative to the more difficult ones. They agreed to continue economic development cooperation in areas of mutual interest and expressed willingness to strengthen people-to-people contacts.
It was also decided in the meeting that the second China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue will be held in Kabul in 2018.
The trilateral dialogue is part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s initiative for strengthening relations and developing cooperation among the three countries in the region.
Earlier, on the sidelines of the tripartite meeting, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif held a bilateral meeting with Wang.
On this occasion, Asif said Pakistan and China were “iron brothers”, but did not directly mention the prospect of Afghanistan joining the corridor.
“The successful implementation of CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) projects will serve as a model for enhancing connectivity and cooperation through similar projects with neighbouring countries, including Afghanistan, Iran and with central and west Asia,” he said.
Emphasising the importance of stability for progress and prosperity, Asif said that Pakistan wants a peaceful Afghanistan to facilitate safe repatriation of Afghan refugees currently in Pakistan.