Tripartite talks on Afghan peace on Sept 7

ISLAMABAD: Amid the efforts to restore peace in the region and the dialogue process with the Afghan Taliban entering its final stage, a tripartite meeting between Pakistani,  Afghan and Chinese officials will held in Islamabad on September 7.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi will lead their respective sides.

Afghanistan’s National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib will represent his country.  Earlier, Afghan Foreign Minister Salauddin Rabbani was scheduled to lead the delegation.

Besides reviewing the Afghan peace process, the three sides will also discuss the extension of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan.

In December last year, Pakistan, China and Afghanistan signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on anti-terrorism cooperation, following the tripartite talks between their foreign ministers in Kabul.

The MoU was signed by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani witnessed the signing ceremony.

Speaking at a joint press conference, Foreign Minister Qureshi called for a joint strategy to eradicate the menace of terrorism from the region. His Afghan counterpart, Rabbani, also stressed the need for collective efforts to address the “common challenge” of terrorism.

Standing with them, Chinese Foreign Minister Yi remarked that both Afghanistan and Pakistan were friends of China and that Beijing would extend every possible cooperation to build trust and confidence between the two countries.

Qureshi told the press conference that the region “can only defeat terrorism if we join hands” and terrorist organisations would take full advantage of the inability of the neighbouring countries to achieve peace. “We can only defeat terrorism if we join hands,” he said.

“We today did recognise there are entities like Da’esh, like ETIM [East Turkistan Islamic Movement], IMU [Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan] that if they do not see peace in the region, they will take advantage of that situation and gain ground, and it is in our collective interest to defeat such organisations.”

He said Pakistan would extend cooperation to bring all the Afghan groups to the talks but it would be up to the Afghans themselves as to how they wanted to achieve the goal of peace. “I am here to encourage the different factions within Afghanistan to reconcile. Pakistan will play its role as we will do our best to push the reconciliation process forward but it’s ultimately an Afghan decision,” Qureshi said.

Rabbani stated that collective efforts were required to address the common challenge of terrorism. “We desire to strengthen our relations with Pakistan,” the Afghan foreign minister said. He also appreciated the Chinese One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative.

On the occasion, Foreign Minister Yi announced that China would assist both Pakistan and Afghanistan to improve their bilateral relations and also help them in their connectivity projects, including a rail line between Peshawar, Kabul and Kandahar.

“The three sides have agreed to seriously implement an MoU signed during this dialogue on trilateral cooperation in the fight against terrorism,” Yi said. “It won’t only push forth trilateral cooperation between our three countries, but will also prove useful in keeping the peace and stability of this region.”

“[Both Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed] to resolve differences through friendly consultations. If there are issues that cannot be solved, then they must be handled appropriately and prevented from affecting the progress in improving bilateral ties,” Yi continued.

Reiterating his country’s commitment to play an effective role in bringing Islamabad and Kabul closer, he said: “As China is a mutual friend of Afghanistan and Pakistan, we approve of this. We are also willing to provide support and help for Pakistan and Afghanistan to improve their ties.”

Despite such a strong US force, the Taliban now rule an even larger part of the land than they did prior to the war

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