BEIJING: Ministers from Afghanistan, Pakistan and China met in Beijing on Tuesday where they agreed to work together to tackle the threat of terrorism.
The first trilateral meeting of foreign ministers from the countries comes as China steps up its investment in its neighbouring nations as part of its trillion-dollar One Belt One Road investment initiative.
“We agreed to cooperate in fighting terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and without any distinctions of any sort,” said Afghan foreign minister Salahuddin Rabbani after the meeting.
Afghanistan will continue its “resolute fight against ETIM and their support groups and networks, and overall counterterrorism cooperation”, he added.
The three countries resolved to not let their soils be used against one another, according to a notification of the meeting.
Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, who represented Pakistan at the forum, emphasised that peace is the collective goal of the three neighbourly nations.
“We are hopeful that longlasting peace in Afghanistan will be established,” he said adding that peace and development are in the interests of all the three countries.
“Today, realising the common aspirations of peace and development of peoples of our three countries, we have explored ways and means to achieve our shared goals,” said Asif.
On the significance of the forum, Asif said it would lead to “cooperation among our three countries [China, Afghanistan and Pakistan] in the fields of economy, security, counter-terrorism, and connectivity projects that would contribute to peace, stability, economic prosperity, and development in all our three countries.”
The foreign minister shared that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) can serve as a model for future cooperation among countries. “Successful implementation of CPEC projects will serve as a model for enhancing connectivity and cooperation through similar projects with neighbouring countries including Afghanistan, Iran, Central and West Asia.”
The minister also stressed the importance of resolving the Afghan issue. “We underscored our support for an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace reconciliation process for bringing durable peace and stability in Afghanistan.”
“It was agreed that peace and stability in Afghanistan are essential to realise our shared objective of development, deepening connectivity, and economic prosperity,” he said.
“Pakistan has emphasised the importance of border management, the return of Afghan refugees and intelligence sharing for effective counter-terrorism cooperation.
“We look forward to [the] response to our proposal for the Pakistan-Afghanistan Action Plan for solidarity and early operationalisation of five working groups. [Afghanistan’s] President [Ashraf] Ghani has also referred to the proposal as the basis for a dialogue,” he said, adding, “We are convinced that peace and security in Afghanistan is critical for our people to benefit from the fruits of development.”
Chinese foreign minister optimistic about dialogue
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi expressed optimism about the outcome of the dialogue, which is part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s initiative for strengthening of relations and developing cooperation between the three countries.
Chinese Foreign Minister also remarked that it is important to engage in dialogue with Taliban to ensure regional security.
“We reject all forms of terrorism,” said Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani adding, “there is no scope for having any terrorist safe havens in the region.”
He also remarked that Afghanistan welcomes the move to stop operations of Taliban in a diplomatic manner.
Towards peace, security cooperation
Prior to the start of the dialogue, the spokesperson of Chinese Foreign Ministry, Hua Chunying, shared that the three foreign ministers would have an in-depth exchange on political mutual trust, reconciliation, development, security cooperation and counter-terrorism.
She said as a common neighbour and friend of Afghanistan and Pakistan, China has always supported friendly cooperation between the two countries and their common development.