China for parleys on terror from Pakistan

Ananth Krishnan

BEIJING: WITH rising concerns in Beijing on the spread of terror from Pakistan hitting its frontier Xinjiang region, China seems to be rethinking its long-held reluctance to discuss regional concerns - particularly in New Delhi and Kabul - on cross border terrorism emanating from Pakistan.

Indian and Afghan officials present at the fourth "Istanbul process" foreign ministerial Afghanistan Conference being held in Beijing told MAIL TODAY there was a discernible shift in China's stand on terrorism.

It comes in the wake of a string of attacks in China's Muslim-majority frontier region, blamed by the authorities on the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), some of whose members are thought to be hiding near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Terrorism received prominent attention at Friday's consultations.

And unusually for a meeting being hosted in Beijing, Afghan officials were outspoken about their concerns on extremist groups operating close to the Pakistan border.

Afghan Foreign Minister Zarar Ahmad Osmani said to a question from MAIL TODAY about cross- border terror that "the reasons for the existence and presence of terrorism in the region have to be identified". "One of the issues that were under discussion at this Conference was the presence of Taliban in Afghanistan," he said. "The reason for their presence has to be identified," he added, alluding to Afghan concerns on Pakistani support for groups in border regions.

He said the regional effort would not only need international cooperation, but also an effort to address factors "outside and inside Afghanistan" that "provide a situation" to exist.

Asked by MAIL TODAY if China was prepared to take steps to address Afghan and Indian concerns, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, "I am happy to tell you that among the confidence building measures we agreed, the first is on counter-terrorism". India was represented by Minister of State for External Affairs Gen. (retd) V. K. Singh. He said China was "concerned on the spread of terrorism", which was concern shared by India. "We had a convergence of views on this particular issue," he said. Also calls for counter measures on terror.

Reproduced From Mail Today.Copyright 2014. MTNPL. All rights reserved.