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China, Russia working for Afghan peace, envoy says

China and Russia have maintained close coordination over developments in Afghanistan and the country has always been high on the security agenda of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, or SCO, a senior Chinese diplomat said.

China and Russia are important powers that have played a constructive role in pushing forward the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan, Chinese Ambassador to Russia Zhang Hanhui said.

Zhang said China will work with Russia to encourage a moderation in the religious policy of Afghanistan's Taliban rulers and for them to pursue a peaceful foreign policy toward all neighboring countries.

In an interview with Russian news agency Interfax, Zhang said that China, as Afghanistan's largest neighbor, respects the country's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. China also adheres to a policy of noninterference in Afghanistan's internal affairs and is pursuing a friendly policy toward all Afghans.

China has played a constructive role in promoting a political settlement of the Afghan issue on the basis of full respect for Afghanistan's sovereignty and for the will of all parties in the country, Zhang said.

Contact group

Zhang said the SCO had established a contact group on Afghanistan in 2005 with the purpose of pursuing cooperation between the SCO and Afghanistan on issues of mutual interest.

China insists that the SCO should play an important role in preventing a resurgence in terrorism through its anti-terrorism mechanism, participate in multilateral meetings about the regional situation, and actively use the cooperative mechanism to further trade and economic interactions in addition to promoting people-to-people exchanges. In this way, the organization can help in the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

Zhang said China expects the Taliban and other parties in the country to establish an open and inclusive political structure based on dialogue and consultation, pursue a moderate and stable domestic and foreign policy, and truly protect the security of foreign institutions and personnel in Afghanistan.

At the same time, China also expects the Afghan Taliban to resolutely fight all types of terrorist forces, including the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, and fulfill a promise not to allow any forces to threaten the security of neighboring countries.