Pakistan hosted the third round of the trilateral dialogue in Islamabad on Saturday with the foreign ministers of China and Afghanistan with an aim to improve political relations and ensure peace in the region.
Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang Yi, and Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani arrived in Islamabad on Saturday and were received by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. The foreign ministers discussed security cooperation and strategy to counter terrorism, as well as improve their connectivity.
The Chinese foreign minister summarised the points discussed in the meeting of the three foreign ministers in five points.
“Firstly, although it hasn’t been long since the trilateral cooperation started, it has resulted in positive outcomes in promoting solidarity and cooperation among the three parties in advancing the political reconciliation in Afghanistan, in enhancing regional connectivity and in promoting common development of the region,” he said, adding that as a new type of practice for sub-regional cooperation, this trilateral cooperation responds to the keen interests of the people in this region for peace and development. He called it an “equal, open, practical and effective” dialogue which is showing strong vitality.
His second point focused on the situation in Afghanistan, which he said was at a critical stage. “The withdrawal of foreign troops needs to be conducted in an orderly and responsible manner to ensure a smooth transition,” opined the Chinese foreign minister, adding that China and Pakistan look forward to reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Taliban through peaceful negotiation. He said a solution needs to be found which is acceptable to all parties involved.
Speaking about the improvement of relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan, he said it is of great significance for peace, stability and development in both countries and the wider region. “Since the inception of the trilateral dialogue, Afghanistan and Pakistan have formulated an action plan for solidarity which identifies the framework and direction for the improvement of bilateral relations,” he said, adding that China appreciates the sense of political responsibility and courage displayed by the leaders of both countries and stands ready to continue to support and help them in pursuing dialogue.
In his fourth point, Wang said China believes trilateral cooperation needs to be advanced under the Belt and Road initiative. “The three parties stand ready to strengthen connectivity cooperation, including the extension of CPEC projects to Afghanistan,” he said adding that China was also ready to cooperate with international partners to build the Kabul-Peshawar motorway.
He announced agreement on a livelihood cooperation among the three countries, which includes projects on drinking water, medical stations, entry and exit facilities at the border ports between Afghanistan and Pakistan. An extension in people-to-people and cultural exchanges was also announced by Wang.
Wang’s last point was on China’s view that ties needed to be further deepened cooperation on counter-terrorism and security. He said that an MoU on counter-terrorism was signed during the last trilateral dialogue. “We have further agreed on a list of projects under that MoU,” he announced, adding that the countries have decided to step up cooperation on counter-terrorism capacity building, narcotics and other areas.
An agreement has also been reached among the three parties on intelligence sharing and law enforcement cooperation, he said.
The China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue was established in 2017 to cooperate on mutual interests with a particular focus on cooperation in economic development and peace and security. The first meeting was held in Beijing in 2017 and the second in Kabul in 2018. The next round of talks will be held in Beijing, Shah Mahmood Qureshi confirmed.