China looks to step up cooperation with Pakistan as Taliban makes gains in Afghanistan

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Beijing, Jul 8 (PTI) China has asked Pakistan to step up cooperation to contain the security risks rising from the US and NATO troops withdrawing from Afghanistan and the latest offensive by the Taliban.

China has also sought a 'trilateral cooperation' between Beijing, Islamabad and Kabul.

'China, along with Pakistan, is willing to continue support for all parties in Afghanistan to seek a political solution through dialogue and lead to ethnic reconciliation and long-lasting peace,' Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was quoted as saying by Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post on Thursday.

Wang made the remarks during a speech marking the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Pakistan.

Wang said: '[China and Pakistan] need to defend regional peace together. Problems in Afghanistan are practical challenges that China and Pakistan both face.' 'To push for the strengthening of communication between countries that have relevant interests would effectively help control the spillover of security risks in Afghanistan, and prevent the expansion of both international and regional terrorism, so that regional stability can be defended,' the minister said.

Wang said there should be more push for 'trilateral cooperation' by increasing Afghanistan's involvement in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a major portion of the Belt and Road Initiative.

China has stepped up its diplomacy with Pakistan and Afghanistan in the aftermath of the US and NATO troops withdrawing from Afghanistan.

While the Western troops have nearly completed their withdrawal, the Taliban has made rapid advances in many of the country's northern districts.

Beijing seeks to carve out its Afghanistan policy, to safeguard its interests, especially the security of the volatile Xinjiang province which shares borders with Afghanistan.

Observers say China's worries stem from Uyghur Muslim militants from Xinjiang -- belonging to the separatist East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) who joined the Islamic State (IS) or Daesh and fought in the Syrian civil war --returning to the volatile province which shared borders with Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), Afghanistan besides Central Asian States, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

China in recent months has been fending off allegations of genocide and atrocities on Uyghur Muslims of Xinjiang by the US, the European Union and international human rights organisations.

Meanwhile, China has evacuated 210 of its nationals from Afghanistan in a chartered flight. Fifty-two of the evacuees had tested positive for COVID-19, official media reported on Thursday.

The aircraft brought the Chinese nationals from Kabul to Wuhan where they were screened for coronavirus. Interestingly, the central Chinese city of Wuhan first reported the first case of coronavirus in late 2019. PTI KJV IND AKJ IND

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