China on Tuesday hosted top Afghan and Pakistani officials in a bid to mediate a long-simmering conflict between Kabul and Islamabad.
The trilateral meeting was held between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Afghan and Pakistani counterparts, Salahuddin Rabbani and Khawaja Asif, respectively, to encourage economic and security cooperation between the three countries.
The first trilateral minister-level dialogue in Beijing came as China expands its economic interests in Pakistan.
“China, Afghanistan and Pakistan, as three neighbours, will naturally try to strengthen cooperation amongst each other,” Wang was quoted as saying by state broadcaster CCTV. “This is fully in accordance with our common interests, and is a good thing for us.”
“We have agreed to help Afghanistan in the peace process and to improve relations between Kabul and Islamabad. Pakistan will take practical action over the Afghan peace process,” he said at the joint press conference.
“We will also be present at the Kabul Process meeting which is going to be held in February,” he said, adding, “We called on the Taliban to join the peace process and Pakistan has announced their support for peace talks between Taliban and the Afghan government. China will also support the Afghan peace process.”
Rabbani, meanwhile, said that the Afghan government was committed to cooperating with China.
“We will continue our efforts to fight terrorism. Fighting terrorism needs joint cooperation. We believe this will improve our relations with Pakistan to fight common threats,” he said.
Pakistan’s Asif called Kabul and Islamabad two “strong brothers”. “Pakistan urges for border management and solving the refugees issues with Afghanistan,” he said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said the three Foreign Ministers had an in-depth exchange on mutual political trust, reconciliation, development, counter-terrorism efforts and security cooperation between Pakistan, China and Afghanistan, Xinhua news agency reported.
The meeting highlighted China’s growing role in global hotspots as US President Donald Trump’s administration embraces a more inward-looking foreign policy.
China’s media reported that President Xi Jinping has sought to present China as a responsible alternative to the US, shifting from a longstanding policy of keeping a low profile in international affairs.
The three countries had agreed to establish the mechanism during Wang’s visit to Kabul and Islamabad in June.
China is investing more than $50 billion in Pakistan to create an economic corridor that would link its remote western region to the Arabian sea. Beijing’s leaders have also boosted economic and trade ties with Afghanistan.