ISLAMABAD: Beijing is ready to support the Afghan government in reconciling with the Taliban, the Chinese foreign minister said, further indicating China's desire to expand its role in its war-torn neighbour country.
“We will support the Afghan government in realising reconciliation with various political factions including Taliban,” Wang told a news conference in Islamabad on Tuesday, speaking through an interpreter.
“The international community needs to give support and encouragement. China is ready to play a constructive role and will provide necessary facilitation any time if it is required by various parties in Afghanistan."
Wang Yi said that Afghanistan's long-term stability depended on a “broad-based and inclusive national reconciliation “which needed international support.
The Chinese foreign minister said that with Nato's combat mission in Afghanistan having finished in December, it was time to end the country's decades of turmoil and poverty.
Last month the Taliban, still resilient despite Nato's 13-year war against them, said they had sent a delegation to China, in an English-language statement posted on their website. The militants insisted the visit was not for the purposes of mediation.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani visited Beijing in October, soon after taking office, and China promised $245 million in “free assistance”, having already secured major oil and copper-mining concessions in the country. But China has previously said little about supporting political efforts in Afghanistan, with which it shares a 76-kilometre border.
Strengthening the Sino-Pak ties
Pakistan and China also reiterated their resolve to give new boost to their existing ties and further deepen their cooperation in various sectors for the benefit of both countries.
The announcement was made by the visiting Chinese foreign minister and Adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz while addressing a joint news conference after holding a meeting at the foreign ministry.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had earlier arrived for a two-day visit to hold bilateral talks, promote economic and trade cooperation and discuss the regional situation with the Pakistani leadership.
Sources had said that during the meeting between Yi and Aziz, the Chinese foreign minister was apprised about Pakistan’s stance on the recent regional developments including US President Obama’s visit to India last month. Yi assured the Pakistani side that China will extend full cooperation for the early completion of the project as the economic corridor is vital for both countries.
He said that Chinese President Xi will visit Pakistan during the current year and added that economic and security cooperation between the two countries is of vital importance.
The sources added that the Chinese foreign minister was also briefed about Pakistan’s stance on various international issues including reforms in the United Nations Security Council.
During the visit, Yi, who is leading an eight-member delegation, will also hold talks with President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. He is also expected to hold meeting with high-ranking military officials.
Both Beijing and Islamabad are to finalise the dates of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Pakistan, which is expected to take place next month.
A statement issued by the Foreign Office earlier had said that all aspects of the bilateral relationship between China and Pakistan, with a special focus on political, strategic and economic cooperation, would be reviewed and consolidated during the talks.
“Pakistan attaches great importance to its comprehensive strategic partnership with China. Such high-level visits are a regular feature of the time-tested and unshakeable bonds of friendship between the governments and peoples of Pakistan and China,” the FO spokeswoman had said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad would also co-host the launching ceremony of Pakistan-China “Year of Friendly Exchanges” during the visit.