BEIJING – China, Afghanistan and Pakistan launched on Tuesday cooperative mechanisms to promote peace in Afghanistan and economic development in the region.
China and Pakistan are looking into the inclusion of Afghanistan in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, an economic platform and a collection of infrastructure and transport projects valued at nearly $57 billion, China’s foreign Minister Wang Yi said at a press conference, joined by the foreign ministers of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The foreign ministers of the three countries concluded a two-day meeting in Beijing on Tuesday, in the first edition of the newly opened trilateral dialogue, following China’s foreign minister’s visit to Islamabad and Kabul in July.
In the past few months, China has acted as a mediator between Pakistan and Afghanistan, two uneasy neighbors as Kabul has accused Islamabad of harboring and supporting the Taliban.
China has significantly increased its interest in Afghanistan and Pakistan, its neighbors, as part of the One Belt One Road initiative aimed at connecting China to economies in Southeast Asia, Central Asia and Europe.
Issues pertaining to the improvement in Afghanistan-Pakistan relations, building mutual trust and cooperation were the focus of the foreign ministers’ dialogue.
Wang highlighted the “important consensus” reached as Afghanistan and Pakistan have pledged to develop mutual trust and counter terrorism, as well as act as an impetus for regional integration.
Both countries agreed to improve bilateral relations to prevent their respective territories to be used as a base to attack the other.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif proposed a plan of action with five working groups in areas including security, refugees, economy and military affairs, which was accepted in principle by his Afghan counterpart, Salahuddin Rabbani.
The three parties reaffirmed their commitment and support for the Afghan-led peace reconciliation process which includes the Taliban at the negotiating table, according to the Chinese minister.
He added that the Afghan government said it would propose an attractive and practical negotiation plan as soon as possible, and stressed that Beijing and Islamabad would fully back the process.
Asif stressed that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a model for cooperation with other countries such as Iran, Afghanistan and the Central Asian nations.
Rabbani said the trilateral dialogue represents a historic opportunity for the three countries.
According to Wang Yi, the increase of the Chinese presence in the region is not due to its rivalry with Washington; Afghanistan is an area of cooperation between the United States and China, and not an area of friction, he said.
The second trilateral meeting is scheduled to take place in Kabul in the first half of 2018.