–Trilateral dialogue an important headway in achieving regional peace, stability
–China defends its offer extending CPEC to Afghanistan, says CPEC is just an economic cooperation project
BEIJING: China on Wednesday defended its offer extending its ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan, stating that the project is not directed against any third party [India].
At the first trilateral meeting of foreign ministers of Pakistan, China, and Afghanistan held Wednesday, China offered to extend the CPEC to Afghanistan as the three sides pledged to step-up counterterrorism cooperation.
Besides Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, FM from Pakistan and Afghanistan Khawaja Muhammad Asif and Salahuddin Rabbani, respectively, attended the meeting.
When asked about reports that China’s plans to extend the CPEC to Afghanistan sparked concerns in India, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said the project extension is not directed at any third country, as it serves the common interests of the said counties.
“This cooperation is not directed at any country and any party. The dialogue and cooperation should not be influenced or disturbed by any country,” she replied to Indian reservations on CPEC.
“It is an economic cooperation programme and it should not be politicised and has nothing to do with territorial dispute,” she said, adding that the project will bring the benefit to the third party and the whole region.
“Afghanistan is a common neighbour of China and Pakistan. They have strong desire to develop the economy and improve livelihood. They are willing to integrate into the regional connectivity process and willing to integrate into CPEC,” she said.
The three sides have agreed to promote connectivity under Belt and Road Initiative framework and follow the principle of starting from easy and smaller projects step by step to identify cooperation projects for common development, she said.
During the trilateral meeting, a consensus has been reached on an eight-point plan to bring peace between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The consensus included a security mechanism to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation to fight all forms of terrorist organisations and terrorists, she added.
The Chinese ministry’s spokesperson said, “Afghanistan and Pakistan have stepped up dialogue and cooperation in line with the common interests of the three parties and also helped to maintain regional peace and stability.”
She informed that FM Yi made presentations with his Pakistani and Afghan counterparts during the meeting and reached a consensus on eight points.
First, the three parties will actively promote tripartite cooperation under the framework of the dialogues and in the principle of mutual respect, consultation on an equal footing and mutual benefits.
Second, the three parties agreed to cooperate in their efforts to achieve the four goals of supporting the process of peace, reconstruction and reconciliation in Afghanistan; helping Afghanistan and Pakistan to improve and develop relations; promoting common security among the three countries and regions; and promoting regional connectivity and “One Belt and Road” international cooperation.
Third, both sides of the two countries agree to improve their bilateral relations as soon as possible so as to achieve harmony and coexistence.
Fourth, the three parties reiterated their commitment to promoting the process of reconciliation in Afghanistan led by “the Afghan-led, Afghan-owned.”
Fifth, the two countries reiterated their support for the proposal of jointly building the One Belt and One Road proposed by China and were willing to link up their respective development strategies with the One Belt and One Road initiative.
At the same time, they would actively explore tripartite cooperation under the framework of the Initiative.
Sixth, they would jointly carry out the projects in areas of people’s livelihood such as health care, human resources and agriculture.
Seventh, the three parties would step up consensus on counter-terrorism coordination and cooperation based on the consensus reached at the three-party deputy foreign ministerial-level anti-terrorism security consultation mechanism, and fight indiscriminately against all terrorist groups and terrorists.
Eighth, both sides of the two countries agreed to push forward the exchange of views between the clerics of the two countries so as to jointly prevent the spread of religious extremism.
“Chinese side is willing to take this dialogue as an opportunity to push forward the interconnection and pragmatic cooperation of the three countries under the “One Belt and One Road” framework,” she concluded.