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'Trilateral diplomacy' prevails at China-Pakistan-Afghanistan meeting

At a critical moment when the US canceled the “peace process” in Afghanistan, a trilateral meeting was held between Afghanistan, China and Pakistan, on Sept 7 in Islamabad. It is the third round of trilateral talks focusing on regional peace, cooperation, stability and friendship between the three countries, all of which share borders.

Foreign Minister of Pakistan Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Salahuddin Rabbani and State Councilor and Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi came together to discuss regional issues and challenges. They worked hard to reach a common strategy to face challenges jointly.

While closely following recent developments in the region, the three reiterated their support for a politically negotiated settlement of the prolonged conflict in Afghanistan, to take war off the talbe. All took note of the cancellation of peace talks between the US and the Taliban. They expressed hope intra-Afghan negotiations would begin soon and lead to full cessation of violence. They underlined the need for an inclusive, pure, Afghan-led peace process leading to a comprehensive agreement for durable and sustainable peace and stability.

Their commitment to further strengthening relations was confirmed by advancing connectivity under the Belt and Road Initiative, the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan and other regional common economic initiatives. It was agreed to explore “China-Afghanistan-Pakistan plus” cooperation, as well as working toward promoting trade and connectivity projects between Afghanistan and Pakistan, such as the Kabul-Peshawar Motorway. In the future Afghanistan may be included in CPEC, becoming a beneficiary of BRI. It may also be granted membership in SCO.

China, under the Belt and Road Initiative, is ready to support the construction of refrigeration storage, clinic centers, drinking water supply schemes and immigration reception centers at checkpoints between Afghanistan and Pakistan to facilitate the movement of people and trade activity among the two countries. It will generate great opportunities for people-to-people contact and help promote understanding and eliminate mistrust.

Games and sports will be promoted among the three, and bring the countries close to each other. Public diplomacy will be promoted. An Archaeologists' Exchange Program will be organized to explore cooperation among Red Crescent Societies of the three countries, along with regularly undertaken exchange projects in other areas.

China, Afghanistan and Pakistan reiterated their strong resolve to fight common enemy — terrorism and extremism in all its forms. They reaffirmed the commitment of not letting any terrorist organization, element or individual use their soil. It was also decided the countries would work toward effectively implementing the trilateral Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Counter-terrorism, signed at the second round of Trilateral Foreign Minister Dialogue held in Kabul. The three also agreed on a list of initial projects of enhancing counter-terrorism cooperation, recognized the need to continue their joint fight against the “East Turkestan” Islamic Movement and stayed committed to countering terrorists’ logistical capabilities.

It was decided to hold the fourth round of this dialogue in Beijing next year in 2020. The first was held in Beijing in 2017, the second in Kabul in 2018 and the third was in Islamabad this year. It seems it will become a routine feature to promote close contacts among three friendly nations.

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