China, Pakistan and Afghanistan on Tuesday agreed to cooperate in the Afghan peace and reconciliation process and fight against the novel coronavirus. The Pakistan-China-Afghanistan trilateral negotiations will help bolster the ongoing Afghan peace process in the wake of impending withdrawal of US troops from the country.
#China holds trilateral with #Pakistan, #Afghanistan https://t.co/9oJhXwXSxY
— The Tribune (@thetribunechd) July 7, 2020
The three-way talks took place as efforts are underway to start the much awaited intra-Afghan dialogue.
Trilateral dialogue between Pakistan-China-Afghanistan
The agreement was reached at the third round of Pakistan-China-Afghanistan Trilateral Vice Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue held via video link, according to a joint statement issued by Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui, Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Mirwais Nab and Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood co-chaired the dialogue.
The intra-Afghan talks are part of the second phase of landmark deal between the Afghan Taliban and the US signed on February 29.
Read more: Ghani optimistic of Taliban Peace deal
The deal envisages a time frame for the withdrawal of US troops in return for Taliban guarantees that they will not allow Afghan soil to be used again by terrorist groups such as al Qaeda.
But there is a concern that US President Donald Trump may pull out of Afghanistan in a haste, leaving the country in a potential mess.
It was because of this reason that Pakistan and Afghanistan wanted an orderly withdrawal as any upheaval in Afghanistan would undermine the regional security particularly the neighbouring countries.
Pakistan-China-Afghanistan trilateral cooperation against COVID-19
“The three sides conducted in-depth discussions and reached consensus on cooperation against COVID-19, the Afghan peace and reconciliation process, and trilateral cooperation,” the statement said.
The three sides, it added, reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening communication and coordination and enhancing mutual trust and cooperation under the trilateral cooperation mechanism.
Read more: China, Pakistan, Afghanistan agree to battle terror together
They also agreed to call on the international community to jointly support the World Health Organization’s leading role in coordinating global COVID-19 response, promote international cooperation on joint prevention and control, and safeguard public health security in the region and beyond.
Afghanistan’s efforts for peace appreciated by China and Pakistan
China and Pakistan, the statement further said, appreciated the efforts by the Afghanistan’s government and relevant parties in expediting the exchange of the prisoners to pave the way for the start of the Intra-Afghan negotiations and call for violence reduction and humanitarian cease-fire.
Swap of prisoners was a key component of the landmark peace agreement between Washington and the warring Taliban in February — a pre-condition of Taliban to start intra-Afghan dialogue.
Read more: Afghanistan sends team to join Taliban peace talks in UAE
“China and Pakistan will enhance cooperation with the Afghan government in support of the “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned” peace reconciliation process, the launch of Intra-Afghan Negotiations at an early date, support the preservation of the gains since 2001, and looked forward to the early restoration of peace and stability in Afghanistan,” it went on to say.
Afghanistan and Pakistan agreed to further strengthen dialogue and work for continuous improvement of bilateral relations, including through the effective implementation of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS).
China will continue to play a constructive role in improving Afghanistan-Pakistan relations, it maintained.
The three sides concurred that the return of Afghan refugees should be part of peace and reconciliation process, and underlined the role of international community for a time-bound and well-resourced road map for the return of Afghan refugees to their homeland with dignity and honor.
Efforts for orderly withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan
They urged for an orderly, responsible and condition-based withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan to avoid potential terrorist resurgence.
An agreement signed between the US and the Taliban in February in Doha drew up plans for withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan in exchange for security guarantees from the insurgent group.
Read more: US agrees with Russia, China on pulling troops from Afghanistan
As part of the Doha deal, the US committed to withdraw its 12,000 troops within 14 months. Troops have since been reduced by over a quarter, according to a recent report on Afghanistan published by the Congressional Research Service.
China, Afghanistan, Pakistan Seek ‘Orderly’ Foreign Troop Exit https://t.co/shDulKmLbZ
— Ayaz Gul (@AyazGul64) July 7, 2020
The Taliban committed to prevent other groups, including Al Qaeda, from using Afghan soil to recruit, train or fund raise toward activities that threaten the US or its allies.
“The three sides expressed readiness to carry out trilateral practical cooperation in flexible manners, and keep exploring new fields of cooperation, with a view to accumulating outcomes for the 4th China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue,” the statement concluded.
The participants also conducted in-depth discussions and reached consensus on cooperation against COVID-19, the statement said.
Anadolu with additional input from GVS News Desk