Senior Chinese and Pakistani diplomats on Tuesday discussed “new changes” to the situation in Afghanistan, Beijing said, amid plans by the United States to withdraw about half of its 14,000 troops based in the country. US officials told Reuters that President Donald Trump had issued verbal orders to plan for a drawdown of close to 7,000 troops. The White House and the Pentagon have not yet commented publicly. China, a close ally of Pakistan, has been deepening its economic and political ties with Kabul and is using its influence to try to bring the two uneasy neighbours closer. Meeting in Beijing, the Chinese government’s top diplomat State Councillor Wang Yi and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had a “deep discussion about new changes to the situation in Afghanistan and reached a consensus”, China’s foreign ministry said. “Both sides believe that military means cannot resolve the Afghanistan issue, and promoting political reconciliation is the only realistic way,” it said in a short statement. “The two sides welcome the various efforts made by all parties and are willing to maintain close communication and strategic coordination.” There was no direct mention of the planned US troop drawdown. China vows to help Afghanistan, Pakistan resolve their disputes Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, speaking at a daily news briefing, reiterated the statement and did not answer a question on whether the meeting was connected to the US troop withdrawal. Wang visited Kabul earlier this month, where he pledged to help Afghanistan and Pakistan overcome their long-standing suspicions of each other. China has long worried about the effect of instability in Afghanistan on China’s violence-prone far western region of Xinjiang, home to the mostly Muslim Uygur people and where China says it faces a threat from Islamist militants.