China, Pakistan, Afghanistan FMs to hold trilateral meeting to discuss Afghan peace prospects after US troops withdrawal

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Beijing, Jun 2 (PTI) Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will host a trilateral meeting with his counterparts from Pakistan and Afghanistan on Thursday to discuss the Afghan peace and reconciliation process, as Beijing stepped up its diplomacy with the two nations in the wake of the US troops withdrawal from the war-torn country.

Wang will chair the fourth China- Afghanistan-Pakistan trilateral foreign ministers meeting via video link in which his counterparts from Pakistan and Afghanistan, Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Mohammad Haneef Atmar, would take part, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced on Wednesday.

The three foreign ministers will have in-depth exchanges of views on the Afghan peace and reconciliation process, practical cooperation and counterterrorism and security cooperation, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing here.

Last month, China offered to host peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban militants to forge peace in view of the US troops withdrawal from Afghanistan by September.

US President Joe Biden in April announced that all American troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by September 11 this year, thus bringing to end the country's longest war, spanning across two decades.

The US and the Taliban signed a landmark deal in Doha on February 29, 2020 to bring lasting peace in war-torn Afghanistan and allow US troops to return home from America's longest war.

Under the US-Taliban pact, the US has agreed to withdraw all its soldiers from Afghanistan in 14 months.

Asked about China’s expectations from the meeting, Wang said since its inception in 2017, the trilateral meeting had been held three times and achieved positive outcomes.

“As agreed by all, the fourth dialogue will be chaired by China. Now the unilateral withdrawal of the US and NATO forces in the critical stage, the Afghan peace and reconciliation process poses new uncertainties to its domestic situation and regional security,' he said.

The fourth dialogue will focus on the peace and reconciliation process in Afghan cooperation, security and counterterrorism, he said.

The abrupt US troop pull-out has raised concerns in Beijing that this may lead to the regrouping of Xinjiang’s Uygur Muslim militants in Afghanistan which shared borders with China.

China wants Afghanistan's future leadership to pursue a moderate policy, promote a foreign policy of peace, maintain a friendship with neighbouring countries and firmly combat all forms of terrorism.

Wang, who held telephone talks with Qureshi and Atmar last month, said China expects the UN to play its due role after the withdrawal of the US forces.

Wang also said that the eight-member Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), of which India and Pakistan are members, should pay more attention to the situation and Afghanistan's neighbours to strengthen communication, speak in one voice and take coordinated actions.

China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan are the SCO members. PTI KJV NSA AKJ NSA