China tries to bring Pakistan, Afghanistan closer

Beijing – China has proposed hosting a new round of three-way talks with Pakistan and Afghanistan this month to continue with its diplomatic push in helping the two neighboring countries improve their strained bilateral ties.

Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing told an unofficial conference of government representatives and experts from the three countries in Islamabad on Tuesday that Beijing had initiated the trilateral vice foreign ministers-level dialogue in 2015. He said that since then, several rounds of talks have taken place, with the mission of easing Kabul's tensions with Islamabad and promoting security, counterterrorism and economic cooperation among the three nations.

"So, for this purpose the Chinese government has proposed to … hold the next round of the strategic dialogue and also the practical cooperation dialogue at the end of this month in Beijing," Jing announced.

The engagement will further enhance "our sense of common community, our sense of development, our sense of common destiny for the three countries," he added.

The ambassador underscored that without the participation and common development of neighboring countries, including Pakistan and Afghanistan, Beijing could not achieve development of western China under its global Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

China is investing billions of dollars in Pakistan to build road, rail and communication infrastructure, power plants and ports to connect the two countries. Beijing has declared the megaproject, known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), as the flagship project of BRI.

But both Chinese and Pakistani officials admit a peaceful Afghanistan is vital for promoting mutual and regional economic cooperation. "Afghanistan, Pakistan occupy the central part, the hub of this initiative. … Afghanistan is so crucial for the success of this initiative," Jing said.

He praised Islamabad and Kabul for achieving progress in bilateral negotiations hosted on Monday by Pakistan. Senior foreign ministry officials of the two countries have agreed after months of deliberations to further bilateral engagements under a formal framework for resolving issues straining mutual ties and for promoting a peaceful end to the Afghan war.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry also issued its formal reaction to the progress made in Monday's talks between the two estranged neighbors. "We believe that it will help create an enabling environment for the early realization of peace in Afghanistan and contribute to the two sides' efforts to uphold peace and development of their two countries, as well as the whole region," ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said.

"Monitoring Desk"

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