ISLAMABAD - Amid growing tension with the United States, Pakistan and China on Tuesday urged the Afghan Taliban to join the peace process at an early date.

At a tripartite dialogue in Beijing, Pakistan, China and Afghanistan agreed that the peace process should be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned, said a joint statement released here by the foreign ministry.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani attended the first China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue in Beijing.

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 manifestation without any distinction, said the statement.

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

The joint statement said, 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. In this regard, they call on the Afghan Taliban to join the peace process at an early date.”

Earlier, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif had asked the US to ensure the return of Afghan refugees from Pakistan.

Asif said the US-led forces, equipped with modern weapons and thousands of soldiers, could not establish peace in Afghanistan. He said Daesh extremists were operating in eight to nine provinces of Afghanistan.

The foreign minister said the US had failed to establish peace in Afghanistan, adding Washington was blaming Pakistan after its own failure. “Pakistan had asked the US to provide actionable information but no such intelligence was provided,” he said.

The joint statement issued by the foreign ministry said Pakistan, China and Afghanistan agreed to conduct win-win trilateral economic cooperation, with an incremental approach, starting from the easier initiative 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 contact,” it said.

The three nations reiterated their resolve 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 country.

They agreed to strengthen counter-terrorism coordination and cooperation in an effort to combat all terrorist organisations and individuals without any discrimination.

The three sides will communicate and consult on developing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Counter-Terrorism Cooperation.

Pakistan and Afghan ministers thanked the Chinese side for the successful holding of the first China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue.

They agreed that the second China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue would be held in Kabul in 2018.

Pakistan and Afghanistan congratulated China on the successful conclusion of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, and fully supported the initiative proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping to build community with a shared future for mankind.

 BEIJING, ISLAMABAD TO LOOK AT INCLUDING KABUL IN $57B CPEC

 Agencies add: China and Pakistan will look at extending their $57 billion CPEC to Afghanistan, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, part of China’s ambitious Belt and Road plan linking China with Asia, Europe and beyond.

Speaking after the trilateral meeting, Wang said China hoped the economic corridor could benefit the whole region and act as an impetus for development.

Afghanistan has urgent need to develop and improve people’s lives and hopes it can join inter-connectivity initiatives, Wang told reporters, as he announced that Pakistan and Afghanistan had agreed to mend their strained relations.

“So China and Pakistan are willing to look at with Afghanistan, on the basis of win-win, mutually beneficial principles, using an appropriate means to extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan,” he added.

How that could happen needs the three countries to reach a gradual consensus, tackling easier, smaller projects first, Wang said, without giving details.

Khawaja Asif said his country and China were “iron brothers”, but did not directly mention the prospect of Afghanistan joining the corridor. “The successful implementation of CPEC 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.

 

Tripartite meet urges Afghan Taliban to join peace process