ISLAMABAD - Pakistan, Russia and China on Tuesday agreed to continue their efforts for peace in Afghanistan, the foreign ministry said.

A statement issued by the foreign ministry said that the three countries vowed to facilitate “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan according to the known principles of reintegration of the armed opposition into peaceful life.”

The trilateral meeting between Russia, China and Pakistan was held in Moscow.

“The third round of the trilateral consultations on regional issues of special representatives on Afghanistan and senior officials of Russia, China and Pakistan was held in Moscow on December 27, 2016. The participants also met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov,” said a joint statement.

“The sides exchanged views on the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, expressed particular concern regarding the increased activities of the extremist groups including the ISIL (Daesh) affiliates in the country,” it added.

The Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China as the UN Security Council permanent members confirmed their flexible approach to delisting Afghan individuals from the UN sanctions lists as their contribution to the efforts aimed at launching peaceful dialogue between Kabul and the Taliban.

“The parties agreed to proceed with consultations in an expanded format and would welcome the participation of Afghanistan,” it said.

Reuters adds: Representatives from the three countries also agreed to invite the Afghan government to such talks in the future, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. “(The three countries) expressed particular concern about the rising activity in the country of extremist groups including the Afghan branch of IS,” ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters after the meeting.

The United States, which still has nearly 10,000 troops in Afghanistan more than 15 years after the Taliban were toppled by US-backed Afghan forces, was not invited to the Moscow talks.

The gathering, the third in a series of consultations between Russia, China and Pakistan that has so far excluded Kabul, is likely to deepen worries in Washington that it is being sidelined in negotiations over Afghanistan’s future.

Officials in Kabul and Washington have said that Russia is deepening its ties with Taliban fighting the government, though Moscow has denied providing aid to the insurgents.

Zakharova said Russia, China and Pakistan had “noted the deterioration of the security situation (in Afghanistan)”.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani last month asked the United Nations to add the Taliban’s new leader to its sanctions list, further undermining a stalled peace process.

Earlier on Tuesday, Afghan Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmad Shekib Mostaghni said Kabul had not been properly briefed about the Moscow meeting. “Discussion about the situation in Afghanistan, even if well-intentioned, in the absence of Afghans cannot help the real situation and also raises serious questions about the purpose of such meetings,” he said.

PAKISTAN VALUES RUSSIA’S

READINESS TO BOOST

COUNTERTERROR COOPERATION

Pakistani foreign secretary said his country appreciates Russia’s willingness to boost bilateral cooperation in the sector of countering terrorism, and believes that such dialogue is important to exchange views and coordinate positions on the issue, reported Sputniknews.com.

Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry told Sputnik: “We appreciate Russia’s willingness to expand cooperation with Pakistan in the field of counter terrorism.” He said Moscow and Islamabad cooperating closely within the framework of Joint Working Group (JWG) on Counter Terrorism and the memorandum of understanding on Combating Illicit Trafficking of Narcotic Drugs.

“Both countries share the goal of eliminating the menace of extremism and terrorism. Such dialogues are therefore important for exchange of views and coordinating positions to comprehensively counter this scourge,” Chaudhry said.

“The two counties (China and Pakistan) may, at a later stage, consider involving other interested parties in financing and execution of upcoming CPEC projects. A response to your question can, therefore, be given, once the two countries decide to also include third parties in the project,” Chaudhry said, when asked whether he saw any prospects for Russia’s involvement in the CPEC.

INDIA TO START DANGEROUS PRECEDENT IF VIOLATES INDUS WATER TREATY

A dangerous precedent would be created if India were to violate the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty with Pakistan, which could provide other countries with justification for similar actions, Chaudhry told Sputnik.

“Contravention of the treaty or its unilateral abrogation by India will not only violate Indus Water Treaty but also set a precedent providing other countries a possible justification to undertake similar actions,” Chaudhry said. Chaudhry expressed hope that India would abide by its obligations under the Indus Water Treaty.

Responding to a question, Chaudhry said Pakistan does not view the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as a platform to discuss its bilateral issues with India. “SCO is a good forum to work for maintenance of regional peace, security and stability, economy and trade, science and technology, culture, education, energy, transportation and environmental protection. Although its members include friends of both countries, nevertheless, it is not a forum to discuss bilateral issues,” Chaudhry said.

 

PAKISTAN HAS GOOD REASONS TO ENGAGE US

 

The foreign secretary said that Pakistan has very good reasons to look forward to a constructive engagement with the United States under the new administration of President-elect Donald Trump. “Obviously new leaders bring their own preferences, priorities and style of doing business. Trump administration would therefore leave its own mark and imprint on the conduct of external relations including with Pakistan. So far the exchanges that we have had between the president-elect and the prime minister and members of his transition team, we have very good reasons to look forward to a constructive engagement with the United States,” Chaudhry said.

Chaudhry stressed that Pakistan, being a victim of terrorism, would welcome every initiative by Trump administration to counter it. “Pakistan and US have already covered a lot of distance in counter-terrorism and will be happy to partner for world peace and stability in future,” he said.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has the potential to bring unprecedented investments to Pakistan, including from companies from the United States, he said and added “The United States is the largest trading partner of Pakistan with potential for more with improved security, better infrastructure and improving energy situation, we are expecting increased US investment in Pakistan. CPEC has the potential to attract unprecedented investment to Pakistan including from US companies,” Chaudhry said.