Trilateral talks yield accord on anti-terror cooperation

September 08, 2019

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ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi join hands with his Chinese and Afghan counterparts Wang Yi and Salahuddin Rabbani, respectively, after the trilateral dialogue at the Foreign Office on Saturday.—White Star
ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi join hands with his Chinese and Afghan counterparts Wang Yi and Salahuddin Rabbani, respectively, after the trilateral dialogue at the Foreign Office on Saturday.—White Star

ISLAMABAD: China, Afghanistan and Pakistan on Saturday agreed to step up cooperation in counter-terrorism, security and intelligence sharing and combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

According to a joint statement issued at the conclusion of the third round of the Trilateral Foreign Ministers Dialogue, the three sides reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthening their relations and exploring new ways of deepening cooperation, including advancing connectivity under the Belt and Road Initiative, the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan and other regional economic initiatives.

They agreed to explore ‘China-Afghanistan-Pakistan plus’ cooperation, as well as work towards promoting trade and connectivity projects between Afghanistan and Pakistan, such as Kabul-Peshawar motorway.

The three sides welcomed the progress made on implementation of projects agreed under the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Practical Cooperation Dialogue (CAPPCD). They agreed to continue cooperation in the fields of economic development, capacity building and improving livelihood and people-to-people exchanges.

China expressed its readiness to support construction of refrigeration storages, clinics, drinking water supply schemes and immigration reception centres at crossing points between Afghanistan and Pakistan to facilitate the movement of people and trade activities between the two countries.

The three sides welcomed the plans to hold a trilateral friendly cricket tournament among junior cricket teams of the three countries in Beijing in October. They also agreed to arrange a capacity building workshop of young diplomats from the three countries under the Junior Diplomats Exchange Programme to be held in Pakistan in October.

Foreign ministers of three countries resolve to promote trade and connectivity projects between Afghanistan, Pakistan

The three foreign ministers agreed to organise an archaeologists’ exchange programme and explore cooperation among the Red Crescent Societies of the three countries, besides regularly undertaking exchange projects in the areas of media, think-tanks, sports, joint training etc.

China, Afghanistan and Pakistan reaffirmed commitment of not letting any terrorist organisation, element or individual to use their soils against any country. They also decided to work towards effectively implementing the trilateral memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation in counter-terrorism, signed at the second round of the Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ dialogue, and agreed on a list of initial projects of enhancing counter-terrorism cooperation in this regard.

They recognised the need to continue their joint fight against the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a Muslim separatist group founded by militant Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang province which has been designated an international terrorist organisation by the United Nations, and its supporters and facilitators.

The three sides committed to promote measures to counter terrorist’s logistical capabilities including terror-financing, recruitment and training.

Foreign Minister of Pakistan Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Salahuddin Rabbani and State Councillor and Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi represented their countries at the dialogue.

The three sides noted with satisfaction the progress made under the trilateral cooperation since the second dialogue held in Kabul on Dec 18 2018. The three foreign ministers reiterated their resolve to further deepen various strands of trilateral cooperation.

They agreed to continue 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.

The three sides condemned the recent terrorist attacks in Kabul, Konduz, Baghlan and Farah in Afghanistan, which have taken many innocent civilian lives, including those of women and children.

China, Afghanistan and Pakistan, while closely following recent developments in the regional situation, reiterated their support for a politically negotiated settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan. In this regard, they took note of the talks between the US and the Taliban. They expressed hope that intra-Afghan negotiations, including direct talks between Kabul and the Taliban begin soon and lead to cessation of violence bringing 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.

Based on respect for the will of the Afghan people, while appreciating the efforts made by the Afghan government, China and Pakistan expressed their continued support for Afghanistan’s peace and reconciliation process as well as for the efforts towards reconstruction and economic development in the country.

The three sides agreed to take advantage of the trilateral vice-ministerial strategic dialogue, the vice-ministerial consultation on counter-terrorism and security and the director-general level practical cooperation dialogue to implement the consensus of the third foreign ministers’ dialogue.

The three countries decided to hold the next round of the Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue in Beijing in 2020.

The foreign ministers of the three countries addressed a joint press conference following the dialogue. Speaking on the occasion Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the three countries remained committed to strengthen mutual cooperation in connectivity, including the stand on taking the CPEC to Afghanistan.

“We also stand ready to work with international partners to build Kabul- Peshawar motorway,” he said.

He observed that improvement in relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan was of great significance for peace, development and stability of the two countries and the region.

“Since the inception of trilateral dialogue, Pakistan and Afghanistan have formulated an action plan of solidarity that identifies framework and direction for mutual relations. China appreciates the sense of political responsibility and courage demonstrated by leaders of both the countries and stands ready to support them in pursuing dialogue, improving relations and strengthening cooperation”.

He underlined the need to advance trilateral cooperation and development related initiatives.

“We shared the view that the withdrawal of foreign troops should be conducted in an orderly and responsible manner in order to ensure smooth transition,” Wang Yi said, according to AFP.

The Afghan foreign minister expressed hope for “positive steps” by Pakistan leading to a “reduction in violence in Afghanistan.

Mr Qureshi said Pakistan “will take measures to further manage our borders so nobody uses our soil against Afghanistan or other countries”.

The Pakistan-China-Afghan Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue was established in 2017 as a means of trilateral cooperation on issues of mutual interest and with a particular focus on cooperation in economic development and peace and security.

The first meeting of the dialogue was held in Beijing in 2017 and the second in Kabul in Dec 2018.

Meanwhile, Pakistan and China signed an MoU on mutual cooperation in the field of education on Saturday.

In the presence of foreign ministers of the two countries, the MoU was signed by the executive director of the Higher Education Commission and the vice chairman of the Chinese International Development Cooperation Agency. Under the MoU China will assist Pakistan in e-learning and establishment of smart schools.

Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2019