Trilateral dialogue: Pakistan, China, Afghanistan agree on 'enhancing counterterrorism cooperation'

Updated September 07, 2019

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Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi delivers his address in a joint press conference held following discussions as Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani and Chinese counterpart Wang Yi look on, on Saturday, in Islamabad. — Foreign Office
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi delivers his address in a joint press conference held following discussions as Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani and Chinese counterpart Wang Yi look on, on Saturday, in Islamabad. — Foreign Office

Islamabad hosted the third round of China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Foreign Ministers' Dialogue on Saturday during which the three sides "agreed on a list of initial projects of enhancing counterterrorism cooperation", according to a joint statement released by the Foreign Office.

The decision came after it was decided by all three sides to work towards the implementation of the trilateral MoU on Cooperation in Counterterrorism, signed at the 2nd round of Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue held in Kabul last year.

After a detailed round of discussions in this year's meet, all three countries reiterated their "strong resolve to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and without any distinction". It was reaffirmed by all sides that no terrorist organisation, element or individual would not be allowed the use of their soils against any country.

According to the joint statement, the three sides "condemned the recent terrorist attacks in Kabul, Konduz, Baghlan and Farah, which have taken many innocent civilian lives including women and children".

The three foreign ministers pictured before talks commenced. — Foreign Office
The three foreign ministers pictured before talks commenced. — Foreign Office

The need to continue the joint fight against East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and its supporters and facilitators was also acknowledged.

"The three sides committed to promote measures to counter terrorists' logistical capabilities including terror-financing, recruitment and training," according to the joint press release.

The trilateral forum was established two years ago, and the earlier meetings were held in Beijing and Kabul in 2017 and 2018. The next round of talks will be held in Beijing in 2020.

In today's dialogue, the three countries agreed to "continue their joint efforts for building political mutual trust and supporting reconciliation, regional peace and stability, development cooperation and connectivity, security cooperation and counter-terrorism as key areas of the trilateral cooperation".

Hope for intra-Afghan negotiations

China, Afghanistan and Pakistan, "reiterated their support for a politically negotiated settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan", according to the joint statement released.

The three sides taking stock of the talks between US and the Taliban, expressed hope that intra-Afghan negotiations including direct negotiations between Kabul and the Taliban begin soon. It was further hoped that this would lead to an eventual end of violence and bring lasting peace for the people of Afghanistan.

"They particularly underlined the need for an inclusive, Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process leading to a comprehensive agreement for durable peace and stability in Afghanistan," read the statement.

It further states that keeping in mind and respecting the will of the Afghan people and appreciating the Afghan government's efforts, China and Pakistan extended their continued support for peace in Afghanistan and the process for its reconciliation, reconstruction and economic development.

Key moment

Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi received his Afghan and Chinese counterparts, Salahuddin Rabbani and Wang Yi, respectively, at Noor Khan Airbase in Islamabad.

Qureshi, while speaking on the occasion, said that the talks are happening at a key moment in the United States-led effort to negotiate peace in Afghanistan. He added that regional and domestic security will rely on ending the war in Afghanistan.

He termed the trilateral forum as a significant one and said that its importance will further increase with the improvement in peace and security in Afghanistan as it will open doors of economic activity and trade in the region.

The foreign minister said Afghanistan can also benefit from the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Gwadar port. He said peace and development in Afghanistan is important for overall regional development.

Talking about China-Pakistan relations, he said that the friendship between the two countries is time-tested. He thanked his Chinese counterpart for Beijing's support to Pakistan in the UN Security Council after India unilaterally withdrew occupied Kashmir's autonomous status.

Pakistan, China sign MoU for educational cooperation

Before the trilateral dialogue, FM Qureshi and his Chinese counterpart held discussions on bilateral relations and cooperation in diverse fields.

The two sides also signed a memorandum of understanding for educational cooperation between the two countries.

Under the agreement, Beijing will provide e-learning facility and aid the establishment of smart schools in Pakistan.

The signing ceremony was held at the Foreign Office. The Higher Education Commission's executive director and vice chairman of the Chinese International Development Cooperation Agency signed the MoU.