Beijing, Dec 26: Chi and Pakistan want Afghanistan to join their multi-billion dollar economic corridor, a key component of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative which India has spurned over sovereignty issues.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made the proposal during a trilateral meet with his Pakistani and Afghani counterparts - Khawaja Asif and Salahuddin Rabbani respectively, in Beijing.
According to Afghan news outlet Pajhwok Afghan News, Yi said Beijing and Islamabad are willing to extend the $50 billion Chi-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) by including Kabul in it.
“The successful implementation of CPEC projects will serve as a model for enhancing connectivity and cooperation through similar projects in neighbouring countries including Afghanistan, Iran and Central and West Asia,” he added.
The CPEC - a network of highways, railways, roads and special economic zones, which connects Chi’s Xinjiang with Pakistan’s Gwadar port, is opposed by India as it passes through Pakistan-administered Kashmir, which is claimed by New Delhi.
Attending the trilateral meet here in Beijing, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Asif said the project will benefit Afghanistan and other countries in the region.
“Successful implementation of CPEC projects will serve as a model for enhancing connectivity and cooperation through similar projects with neighbouring countries including Afghanistan, Iran, Central and West Asia.”
Chi has always sought to allay India’s apprehensions about the project, describing it purely as an economic initiative.
Beijing also says the project will not affect its neutral stance on the Kashmir issue.
Meanwhile, Chi on Tuesday hosted top Afghan and Pakistani officials in a bid to mediate a long-simmering conflict between Kabul and Islamabad. The trilateral meeting was held between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Afghan and Pakistani counterparts, Salahuddin Rabbani and Khawaja Asif, respectively, to encourage economic and security cooperation between the three countries.
The first trilateral minister-level dialogue in Beijing came as Chi expands its economic interests in Pakistan. “Chi, Afghanistan and Pakistan, as three neighbours, will turally try to strengthen cooperation amongst each other,” Wang was quoted as saying by state broadcaster CCTV. “This is fully in accordance with our common interests, and is a good thing for us.”
“We have agreed to help Afghanistan in the peace process and to improve relations between Kabul and Islamabad. Pakistan will take practical action over the Afghan peace process,” he said at the joint press conference. “We will also be present at the Kabul Process meeting which is going to be held in February,” he said, adding, “We called on the Taliban to join the peace process and Pakistan has announced their support for peace talks between Taliban and the Afghan government. Chi will also support the Afghan peace process.” (IANS)