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China to launch ‘shuttle diplomacy’ between Pakistan and Afghanistan

LiveMint logoLiveMint 26-06-2017 K.J.M. Varma

Beijing: China on Monday announced that it will launch “shuttle diplomacy” between Pakistan and Afghanistan to ease tensions between the two neighbours and promote the peace process in war-torn Afghanistan in wake of a spurt in terror attacks in both countries.

China will conduct the shuttle diplomacy between Afghanistan and Pakistan, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said during his visit to both the countries, according to Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang. Wang visited Islamabad and Kabul on 24 and 25 June, respectively.

During the visit, the two countries agreed to establish the bilateral crisis management mechanism, Geng said. The main target for the visit was to implement a consensus between the state leaders, he said. “We will conduct shuttle diplomacy to help improve relations between the two countries within our capacity and also to promote the peace process in Afghanistan,” Geng said.

Asked about Afghanistan’s allegations that Pakistan is harbouring Taliban militants who were blamed for the recurring terrorist attacks in that country, Geng said, “This shuttle visit made by Wang was conducted in agreement with Afghanistani and Pakistani sides... During this visit, the two countries have sent out goodwill messages to each other and two sides agreed to establish the bilateral crisis management mechanism... We think that this is important step forward towards the improvement of their bilateral relationship and we also stated many times that maintenance of friendly relationships between two countries is conducive to regional stability and security and international efforts against terrorism, we will continue our efforts in this regard.”

Afghanistan in recent months has alleged that Pakistan is carrying out destabilization and terrorist activities inside the country. “We call it an undeclared war because the objectives are not set. We do not know what the objectives are for Pakistan. And that is something that we have been trying to discover,” Afghanistan’s ambassador to the US Hamdullah Mohib had told an audience at an event organised by the Indus think-tank in Washington, where his Pakistan counterpart Aizaz Chaudhry was also present.

China, an “all-weather ally” of Pakistan in recent years, has stepped its engagement with Afghanistan by appointing a special envoy to Afghanistan.

Wang’s visit comes in the backdrop of a reported move by US President Donald Trump to increase the number of American troops in Afghanistan from the present 8,000, reversing his predecessor Barak Obama’s move for a gradual pull-out, which encouraged Beijing to step in to play a bigger role.

A joint statement issued at the end of Wang’s visit said the three countries agreed to establish a “foreign ministers meeting mechanism” for cooperation in areas of interests. They have also agreed to launch a coordinating team consisting of China, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US.

“This visit is an important step forward in improvement of relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan,” Geng added. On Friday, twin blasts tore through a market crowded with Eid shoppers in a mainly Shia town, a suicide bomber blew up his explosives-laden car and militants opened fire on police in separate attacks in Pakistan’s three major cities, killing 62 people and wounding nearly 100. On 1 June, Afghanistan cut its cricketing ties with Pakistan after blasts in Kabul killed 90 people and injured 463 others. PTI

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