Pakistan, China, Afghanistan seek 'orderly' US withdrawal to prevent terror resurgence

Officials hold trilateral meeting via video link to discuss latest situation in Afghanistan.


Kamran Yousaf July 07, 2020
Foreign ministers of Pakistan, China and Afghanistan display solidarity at a trilateral summit in Islamabad last year. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

ISLAMABAD:

Pakistan, Afghanistan and China on Tuesday called for an "orderly, responsible and condition based" withdrawal of the US-led foreign forces from the war-torn country in order to prevent potential resurgence of terrorist groups.

The call came after senior officials from these three countries held a trilateral meeting through a video link to discuss the latest Afghan situation against the backdrop of accelerated efforts to seek a political solution to the lingering war.

The 3rd round of China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Vice Foreign Ministers' Strategic Dialogue was attended by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui, Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Mirwais Nab and Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood, said a joint statement issued after the virtual meeting.

The three-way talks took place as efforts are underway to start the much awaited intra-Afghan 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.

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.

Mindful of the challenge, the three sides agreed to continue to strengthen counter-terrorism and security cooperation, combat the “East Turkistan Islamic Movement”, and all other terrorist forces and networks posing threats to the common security.

"The three sides agreed 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 roadmap for the return of Afghan refugees to their homeland with dignity and honour," read the statement issued by Pakistan's foreign office.

The three sides, as per the joint statement, conducted in-depth discussions and reached consensus on cooperation against Covid-19, the Afghan peace and reconciliation process, and trilateral cooperation.

The three sides attach great importance to the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan trilateral cooperation and would continue to vigorously implement the outcome of the 3rd China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers' Dialogue.

The three sides also agreed to further the cooperation against Covid-19, call on the international community to jointly prevent discrimination and stigma, support the World Health Organisation'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.

China and Pakistan appreciated the efforts by the Afghanistan government and relevant parties in expediting the exchange of the prisoners to pave the way for intra-Afghan negotiations and call for violence reduction and humanitarian ceasefire, according to the FO statement.

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, the preservation of the gains since 2001, and looked forward to the early restoration of peace and stability in Afghanistan, it added.

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.

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 communique concluded.

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