ISLAMABAD: China on Tuesday expressed its support for latest developments in efforts for revival of Afghan peace and reconciliation process.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is currently on a regional tour of four countries — Afghanistan, Iran, China and Russia — to apprise leaders of these countries about the meeting between the United States and the Taliban in Abu Dhabi last week, which was facilitated by Pakistan.
He met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at Beijing in the third leg of his visit.
“FM Shah Mehmood Qureshi, on his tour to regional countries, has held discussions with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. Bilateral and regional issues, especially peace in Afghanistan, were discussed,” FO spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that Mr Qureshi, who made “a special trip” here, in his meeting with Mr Wang discussed “the latest developments surrounding the situation in Afghanistan” and the two sides reached “broad consensus”.
Qureshi, Wang reach ‘broad consensus’ at their meeting in Beijing
She said that “miscellaneous efforts” made by different parties were “welcomed” and the two sides pledged to stay “in close communication and strategic coordination”.
China, Pakistan and Afghanistan have trilateral framework for enhancing their cooperation on peace and reconciliation, security, connectivity and in other areas.
The second meeting of the trilateral process was held in Kabul on Dec 15 in which the three sides signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for intensifying their counterterrorism cooperation.
Ms Hua further said that Mr Qureshi and Mr Wang in their meeting agreed to deepen China-Pakistan all-weather strategic cooperative partnership and continuously elevate all-round cooperation.
Mr Qureshi will meet his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on Wednesday.
The US decision to pull nearly half of its troops from restive Afghanistan was high on the agenda at the meeting between the Pakistani and Chinese foreign ministers, add agencies.
“The two sides agreed that a military means cannot solve the Afghan issue, and that promoting a political solution focused on reconciliation is the only realistic and feasible way,” the Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman said.
President Donald Trump’s decision to pull around half of the 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan has stunned and dismayed diplomats and officials in Kabul, and comes during a renewed push for talks with the Taliban to end the 17-year war.
China has not announced an official stance on the US troop pullout, but Pakistan on Saturday welcomed the decision to slash US troop numbers calling it “a step towards peace” in war-torn Afghanistan.
In recent months, China has played a more active role in brokering peace in the region as stability in Afghanistan is critical to its Belt and Road policy of expanding trade links across Asia.
Beijing has hosted Taliban leaders in an effort to bring the warring sides in Afghanistan to the negotiating table.
It has been long worried about the effect of instability in Afghanistan on China’s violence-prone far western region of Xinjiang, home to the mostly Muslim Uighur people and where China says it faces a threat from militants.
Published in Dawn, December 26th, 2018