Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif arrived in China on Friday at the start of his regional outreach for consultations on the new US policy on Afghanistan and South Asia.
Addressing a joint press conference after his meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing, Asif said that the two countries agreed that the solution to the Afghan conflict has to be fundamentally political and that there is no military solution to the issue.
He appreciated China's "constructive role" in the process for a politically negotiated settlement of the Afghan conflict, saying that Pakistan and China can together contribute to a political solution to the conflict.
Asif said Pakistan "strongly" adheres to one-China policy: "We support China on its core issues of Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang and South China Sea."
He said Operations Zarb-i-Azb and Raddul Fasaad against terrorist groups "including ETIM [East Turkestan Islamic Movement]", which China blames for carrying out attacks in its far western region of Xinjiang, have yielded positive results.
"ETIM is not only a threat to China but also to Pakistan."
Answering a question, Asif said he will meet the Afghan foreign minister on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, the first high-level contact between the two countries after the announcement of Trump's Afghan and South Asia policy.
"We will pursure a policy of engagement with Kabul in bringing peace to the region," he said.
'Some countries need to give full credit to Pakistan'
Meanwhile, the Chinese foreign minister said Pakistan and China stand together in the changing regional and global scenario.
"China supports Pakistan in safeguarding its national sovereignty and dignity," he said.
Wang Yi said the international community should recognise Pakistan's efforts to eliminate terrorism.
"When it comes to the issue of counterterrorism, Pakistan has done its best with a clear conscience. In comparison, some countries need to give Pakistan the full credit that it deserves."
Wang's comments in support of Pakistan come days after the BRICS summit declaration in which China — along with Brazil, Russia, India, and South Africa — had named militant groups allegedly based in Pakistan as a regional security concern and called for their patrons to be held to account.
Stressing the need to intensity trilateral cooperation between Afghanistan, Pakistan and China, Wang said his country stands ready to support the improvement of relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
"We reaffirmed that only the advancement of the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process is the viable way out to address the Afghan issue."
He said peace in Afghanistan is in the best interest of Pakistan, China and the entire region.
Wang, who is hosting Asif on his first trip abroad as foreign minister, said China, Pakistan and Afghanistan will hold new high-level talks this year to push forward settlement negotiations even while the US deploys thousands of more troops.
After his China visit, Asif will travel to Iran. He has also planned meetings with Russian and Turkish leaders.
Both Moscow and Beijing have criticised the US position on Pakistan and have insisted that Pakistan’s importance for peace in Afghanistan and its sacrifices in the fight against terrorism need to be recognised.
Foreign ministers discuss regional security, CPEC
The two foreign ministers in a meeting prior to their joint press conference discussed “strengthening of bilateral relations and the prevailing regional situation”, according to a Foreign Office (FO) statement.
Asif told his counterpart that relations between the two countries “were founded in the principles of mutual-trust, equality, non-interference, harmonious co-existence and win-win cooperation based on common agenda of socio-economic development,” the FO said.
The leaders reaffirmed their mutual commitment while emphasising that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) “offered a unique opportunity for the two countries to integrate with regional trading routes,” the statement said.
The Chinese foreign minister “reiterated China’s consistent support to Pakistan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, stability and development” and lauded “Pakistan’s remarkable achievements in counter-terrorism”.
“Pakistan has been at the forefront of international efforts to combat terrorism for a long time, which the international community should recognise and appreciate,” Wang asserted.
They exchanged views on issues of peace and stability in the region, agreeing that the conflict in Afghanistan requires a political solution.
Pakistan also “reiterated support for China’s offer to host the first trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of Pakistan, China and Afghanistan later this year,” the FO said.
Trump had in his August 21 speech announced a new strategy for Afghanistan while denouncing Pakistan for allegedly allowing terrorists to maintain safe havens inside its territory.
He also seemed to want India to take on a bigger role in Afghanistan, stoking fears in Islamabad that India would use this opportunity for stirring trouble in the bordering areas of Pakistan.
Talking tough on Pakistan, Trump had said, "We can no longer be silent about Pakistan's safe havens for terrorist organisations," while warning that vital aid to Islamabad could be cut.
"We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting," Trump had said. "That will have to change and that will change immediately."