China pushes Afghanistan and Pakistan on crisis management
Foreign ministry urges the neighbours to set up a system for managing flare-ups of their ongoing tensions
China has urged Afghanistan and Pakistan to improve relations and establish a crisis prevention and management mechanism, the Chinese foreign ministry said.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul on Saturday and said a three-way conference mechanism involving the two countries and China could promote dialogue and cooperation, the ministry said in a statement on its website.
“China sincerely wishes for Afghanistan and Pakistan to improve relations, rebuild mutual trust, strengthen cooperation and achieve mutual safety and development,” Wang said in the statement.
“As Afghanistan and Pakistan’s mutual friend, China encourages them to establish a crisis prevention and management mechanism as soon as possible, to properly deal with any kind of sudden occurrence.”
Wang was visiting Pakistan on the weekend.
Neither Afghan nor Pakistani officials were available for comment.
Afghanistan and Pakistan have been uneasy neighbours ever since Pakistan’s independence in 1947.
Their ties have been poisoned in recent years by Afghan accusations that Pakistan is supporting Taliban insurgents fighting US-backed Kabul in order to limit the influence of its old rival, India, in Afghanistan.
Pakistan denies that and says it wants to see a peaceful, stable Afghanistan.
Several people were killed when Afghan and Pakistani border troops exchanged fire for hours in early May. As a result, a major border crossing was closed for more than three weeks.
China is also worried about the spread of Islamist militancy from lawless ethnic Pashtun lands along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, in particular of members of its Uygur Muslim minority being radicalised there.
In Pakistan on Saturday, Wang said counterterrorism was an important part of China’s relations with Pakistan and he thanked it “for its firm support for China’s fight against the violent terrorist group the ‘East Turkistan Islamic Movement’”, Xinhua reported.
China says the group is a violent Uygur separatist group with links to militants in South Asia.
China is also investing heavily in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
It has promised US$57 billion in investment in projects along a China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, part of its ambitious “Belt and Road Initiative” linking China with the Middle East and Europe.
The state-run China Metallurgical Group won a contract to develop Afghanistan’s Mes Aynak copper mine in 2007 but the project has been mired in delays.