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China-Pakistan Economic Corridor may be extended to Afghanistan

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China, Afghanistan and Pakistan can jointly build the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan, and help Afghanistan participate in regional connectivity, said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the foreign ministers' meeting between the three countries.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi of the Afghan interim government attended the meeting.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a $62 billion connectivity project envisioned to stretch from the western Chinese city of Kashgar to Pakistan's Arabian Sea port of Gwadar, located near Iran and Gulf shipping lanes. It is a major component of Beijing's broader Belt and Road Initiative.

On May 31, 2021, Gwadar Port become fully operational, along with the availability of online booking for the delivery of goods. Earlier, in January 2020, Gwadar Port became operational for Afghan transit trade.

Under the current circumstances, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan should restart the tripartite cooperation mechanism and advance cooperation in the three areas of politics, development and security based on the principles of mutual respect, equal consultation and mutual benefit, Wang was quoted by the Global Times as saying.

We will jointly build the Belt and Road Initiative, extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan, and help Afghanistan participate in regional connectivity, he stressed and called on the three countries to strengthen counter-terrorism and security cooperation under the guidance of the new concept of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security.

On his part Qureshi said that Pakistan supports Afghanistan in strengthening contacts with the outside world and actively responding to the concerns of the international community, and noted that Afghanistan's frozen overseas assets should be returned immediately.

Muttaqi said that Afghanistan understands the concerns of the international community on the rights and interests of women and children, especially girls' education, adding that the government will actively and orderly push forward the issue.

He went on to say that the world should be assured that Afghanistan will never allow terrorists to use its territory to harm other countries' interests and citizens. Afghanistan hopes to take an active part in jointly building the BRI, Muttaqi said.

China's Xi strongly backs Afghanistan

Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Thursday issued strong backing for Afghanistan at a regional conference. Xi pledged China's support in a message to a gathering of representatives from Afghanistan, China, Russia, Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan in a central Chinese city that spotlights Beijing's aspirations to play a leading role in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of US forces last August.

A "peaceful, stable, developed and prosperous Afghanistan" is what Afghans aspire to, which "serves the common interests of regional countries and the international community," Xi said. "China has all along respected Afghanistan's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and is committed to supporting Afghanistan's peaceful and stable development," Xi said in his message to the gathering in Tunxi, a center of the tourism industry in Anhui province.

Special envoys for Afghanistan from China, the United States and Russia, a group known as the "Extended Troika", were also meeting concurrently in Tunxi.

Although it has yet to recognize the Taliban government, China has moved quickly to shore up its ties with the group.

Qatari connection

On Wednesday, Wang Yi also met with Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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