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September 8, 2019

Pakistan, China, Afghanistan to boost counter terror effort

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September 8, 2019

ISLAMABAD: China, Afghanistan and Pakistan on Saturday reiterated their strong resolve to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and without any distinction. These views came forth during a trilateral press conference at the Foreign Office at the conclusion of the Third Session of Afghanistan-Pakistan-China Dialogue.

The dialogue was led by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Salahuddin Rabbani, and State Councilor and Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi. The three countries reaffirmed their commitment of not letting any terrorist organisation, element or individual use their soils against any country.

Meanwhile, Pakistan and China once again stressed the need for an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led political peace process and called for future intra Afghan dialogue between the Afghan government and the Taliban. They expressed the hope that the intra-Afghan negotiations, including direct negotiations between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban, will begin soon leading to full cessation of violence in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan said there is a new momentum in the relations with Pakistan and accepts there are challenges that it faces together with Pakistan and looks forward to positive steps from Islamabad which will end violence on its land. The three countries decided to hold the next round of Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue in Beijing in 2020. In a joint statement issued later, the three foreign ministers reiterated their resolve to further deepen various strands of trilateral cooperation. They agreed to continue their joint efforts for building political mutual trust and supporting reconciliation, regional peace and stability, development cooperation and connectivity, security cooperation and counter-terrorism as key areas of the trilateral cooperation. Pointing to the new momentum in ties with Afghanistan, Qureshi pointed to the “smiling face of the Afghan foreign minister”. “Pakistan and Afghanistan need each other to live in peace. Cooperation is in our mutual interest. Pakistan has undertaken a series of operations to clear our terrorists and we have succeeded to a large extent. Strengthening our borders will safeguard Afghanistan and other countries”, said Qureshi.

The Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, “People of Afghanistan are hearing the footsteps of peace,” adding that the trilateral cooperation will focus on peace and stability in the region. “The situation inside Afghanistan is at a critical stage. Withdrawal of troops should be phased out in a responsible manner. There should be a political framework for dialogue in the meeting between the Afghan government and the Taliban,” he added.

Salahuddin Rabbani said Saturday’s dialogue was successful and he welcomed the strong support for peace by Pakistan and China. He said in this talk of dialogue it was clear that the Taliban were not sincere in this process, as their daily killings of Afghan people showed. “Bilateral relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have to be improved. We are a front line state against terrorism and regional security needs a collective will against all terrorist groups”, he said.

The joint statement condemned the recent terrorist attacks in Kabul, Konduz, Baghlan and Farah, which have taken many innocent civilian lives, including women and children. “China, Afghanistan and Pakistan, while are closely following recent developments in the regional situation, reiterate their support for a politically negotiated settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan. In this regard, they took note of talks between the US and the Taliban. They particularly underlined the need for an inclusive, Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process leading to a comprehensive agreement for durable peace and stability in Afghanistan”, added the statement.

Based on respect for the will of Afghan people, while appreciating the efforts made by the Government of Afghanistan, China and Pakistan expressed their continued support for Afghanistan’s peace and reconciliation process as well as for the efforts towards reconstruction and economic development in the country. The three sides reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthening their relations, exploring new ways of deepening cooperation, including advancing connectivity under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA) and other regional economic initiatives.

The three sides agreed to explore ‘China-Afghanistan-Pakistan plus’ cooperation, as well as working towards promoting trade and connectivity projects between Afghanistan and Pakistan, such as Kabul-Peshawar Motorway. The three sides welcomed the progress made on implementation of projects agreed under the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Practical Cooperation Dialogue (CAPPCD). They agreed to continue cooperation in the fields of economic development, capacity building, improving livelihood and people-to-people exchanges.

China expressed its readiness to support construction of refrigeration storages, clinic centers, drinking water supply schemes and immigration reception centers at crossing points between Afghanistan and Pakistan to facilitate the movement of people and trade activities among the two countries. The three sides welcomed the plans to hold a trilateral friendly cricket tournament among junior cricket teams of the three countries in Beijing in October 2019. They also agreed to arrange a capacity building workshop of young diplomats from the three countries under the Junior Diplomats Exchange Program to be held in Pakistan in October 2019.

The three foreign ministers agreed to organise an archaeologists’ exchange programme, explore cooperation among the Red Crescent Societies of the three countries, besides regularly undertaking exchange projects in the areas of media, think-tanks, sports, joint training etc.

They also decided to work towards effectively implementing the trilateral MoU on cooperation in counter-terrorism, signed at the 2nd round of Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue held in Kabul, and agreed on a list of initial projects of enhancing counter-terrorism cooperation in this regard. They recognized the need to continue their joint fight against ETIM and its supporters and facilitators. The three sides committed to promote measures to counter terrorist’s logistical capabilities including terror-financing, recruitment and training.

The three sides agreed to take advantage of the trilateral Vice-Ministerial Strategic Dialogue, the Vice-Ministerial Consultation on Counter-Terrorism and Security, and the Director-General Level Practical Cooperation Dialogue to implement the consensus of the 3rd Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue.

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