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Pak-Afghan appealed Taliban militants to join peace talks

27 December, 2017

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BEIJING: The foreign ministers of Pakistan and Afghanistan appealed to Taliban militants to join peace talks following a meeting Tuesday organised by China to mend strained relations between the two governments.In a joint statement, the three governments called for a ‘broad-based and inclusive peace and reconciliation process’ following near-daily Taliban attacks in areas across Afghanistan. The three governments said they ‘call on the Afghan Taliban to join the peace process at an early date’.

Afghanistan and Pakistan are at odds over American and Afghan accusations that Islamabad is harboring some of the fiercest factions of the Taliban, which was overthrown as the Afghan government in 2001 by a US invasion. Those include the Haqqani group, which the US government has declared a terrorist organisation. “Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed to improve their relations as soon as possible,” said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. “The two sides unanimously expressed the point that they will not allow any party or force to use their territories to engage in the activities that would undermine the security of the other side.”

Wang Yi said the three parties had reached complete consensus in fighting terrorism, adding that China would also ‘fully leverage’ Xinjiang as a base for economic cooperation with the bordering countries.

“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 sides reaffirmed their commitment to improving their relations, deepening mutually beneficial cooperation, advancing connectivity under the Belt and Road Initiative and fighting terrorism in all its forms and manifestations without any distinction, according to joint statement issued after the meeting.

The three foreign ministers agreed to jointly work together on mutual trust building and reconciliation, development cooperation and connectivity, security cooperation and counter-terrorism as three topics of the trilateral cooperation.

The three sides reaffirmed that a broad-based and inclusive peace and reconciliation process, which is ‘Afghan-led, Afghan-owned’ and fully supported regionally and internationally, is the most viable solution to end the violence in Afghanistan.

The three sides agreed to conduct win-win trilateral economic cooperation, with an incremental approach, starting from the easier initiatives to the more difficult ones. The three sides agreed to continue economic development cooperation in areas of mutual interest and expressed willingness to strengthen people-to-people contacts. The three sides reiterated their firm resolves to fight the menace of terrorism. They expressed their strong determination not to allow any country, organisation or individual to use their respective territories for terrorist activities against any other countries. The three sides agreed to strengthen counter-terrorism coordination and cooperation in an effort to combat all terrorist organisations and individuals without any discrimination.

The three sides agreed to further communicate and consult on developing of the memorandum of understanding on counter-terrorism cooperation. The talks reflected Beijing’s efforts to expand its political and diplomatic role in the region. Chinese leaders also are uneasy about the potential for militant activity in Afghanistan and elsewhere in Central Asia to spill across the border into China’s Muslim northwest. At the meeting, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif expressed hope for progress on proposals to improve trade and cooperation in securing their border areas. “Pakistan emphasized the importance of border management, the return of Afghan refugees and intelligence sharing for effective counterterrorism cooperation,” he said. China and Pakistan agreed to look at adding Afghanistan to the economic corridor of dozens of projects including railways and highways being developed by the two governments in Pakistan. “China and Pakistan are willing to discuss with Afghanistan, under the principle of mutual benefit and win-win, the possibility of extending the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan,” said Wang, the Chinese foreign minister. Khawaja Asif said his country and China were ‘iron brothers’. “The successful implementation of CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) projects will serve as a model for enhancing connectivity and cooperation through similar projects with neighbouring countries, including Afghanistan, Iran and with central and west Asia,” he said.

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