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Wang urges stronger cooperation for lasting peace in Afghanistan

In this May 24, 2020 photo, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends a press conference on China's foreign policy and foreign relations on the sidelines of the third session of the 13th National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (WANG ZHUANGFEI / CHINADAILY.COM.CN)

BEIJING – China stands ready to work with all neighboring countries of Afghanistan to strengthen coordination and cooperation on Afghanistan-related issues, so as to help achieve lasting peace and stability in the country, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said.

In a video message to the Second Meeting of Foreign Ministers of The Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan on Wednesday, Wang noted that the first Foreign Ministers' Meeting held in September was a creative move, as the participants officially launched the mechanism of coordination and cooperation among Afghanistan's neighboring countries, and issued a joint statement covering a broad range of issues.

Through the meeting, the countries established the political consensus to work together to address the changes in the Afghan situation, demonstrated their unique role as Afghanistan's neighbors, and made clear their reasonable concerns, he said, adding that the meeting drew considerable attention from the  international community.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged the United States and other Western countries to take up their primary responsibility in helping Afghanistan emerge from hardship to vitality, especially at present lift unilateral sanctions on Afghanistan for its state assets to be used to meet people's urgent needs as soon as possible

China is ready to work with all neighboring countries of Afghanistan, based on the first foreign ministers' meeting, to give full play to their advantages,  strength, uniqueness and cooperation as Afghanistan's neighbors, so as to help ensure lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan, Wang noted.

He pointed out that Afghanistan is at a crucial moment to transform turbulence into order, now faces both challenges and opportunities, difficulties and hopes. As its neighbors, the countries all hope to see Afghanistan enjoy  peace, stability, economic development, ethnic harmony and good-neighborliness.

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He also mentioned that recently, the international community has also expressed expectations and concerns over the evolution of the Afghan situation, for example, through the Moscow Format meeting last week.

Under the new circumstances, all neighboring countries of Afghanistan should, on the basis of respecting Afghanistan's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity and sticking to the "Afghan-led, Afghan-owned" principle, step up coordination and cooperation on Afghanistan-related issues, in order to end chaos and restore stability in the country, prevent security problem spillovers, and help the country embark on a path toward good governance, Wang stressed.

In this regard, the senior Chinese diplomat made four proposals.

First, making active engagement and showing guidance. All parties should attach importance to the opportunity that the Afghan interim government is adaptable and shapable, and get in touch and talks with it in a rational and pragmatic way to increase mutual trust and exert positive influence, he said. 

The neighboring countries should encourage Afghanistan to take a broad-based and inclusive political stance, adopt moderate and prudent domestic and foreign policies, protect the basic rights and interests of ethnic minorities, women and children, fight against terrorism resolutely, and pursue policies of good-neighborliness, friendship and cooperation.

It is natural for neighbors to have some differences, but neither stand-off nor confrontation provides a sustainable solution, Wang said, noting that the right way is to be forward-looking, accommodate each other's reasonable concerns, and seek co-existence in peace.

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Second, expanding multilateral coordination. Wang called for regional countries to increase mutual reinforcement and build synergy between the various mechanisms on Afghanistan, and support the United Nations (UN) as a key coordinator in such fields as maintaining stability, preventing chaos, and providing emergency assistance.

He also urged the United States and other Western countries to take up their primary responsibility in helping Afghanistan emerge from hardship to vitality, especially at present lift unilateral sanctions on Afghanistan for its state assets to be used to meet people's urgent needs as soon as possible. The World Health Organization also needs to step up coordination and provide more vaccines, medical supplies and protective gears for Afghanistan to control the spread of COVID-19 at an early date, he said.

Third, strengthening counter-terrorism cooperation. All parties should not only encourage the new Afghan authority to make a clean break with terrorist forces, but also to support it in independently, resolutely and effectively combating all extremist and terrorist organizations, including  Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), Wang said.

He also proposed to positively consider holding bilateral and multilateral counter-terrorism dialogues and cooperation with Afghanistan at an appropriate time and forge a united front against terrorism through multilateral platforms such as the United Nations (UN) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Fourth, promoting peace and reconstruction. Neighboring countries should take coordinated and robust actions to steadily increase economic and trade exchanges with Afghanistan, explore infrastructure connectivity, and help Afghanistan take part in the cooperation of jointly building the Belt and Road, said the senior Chinese diplomat, urging the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to consider how to resume financing support for Afghanistan, with a view to helping the country embark on a path of sound development.

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Wang said that as a responsible major country and Afghanistan's neighbor, China has all along been playing a constructive role on the Afghanistan issue

Wang said that as a responsible major country and Afghanistan's neighbor, China has all along been playing a constructive role on the Afghanistan issue. At the first foreign ministers' meeting, China announced 200 million RMB yuan (more than $31.2 million) worth of emergency humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. The first batch of supplies has arrived in Kabul and the delivery of the remaining is well underway. China will continue to provide support and help to the Afghan people to the best of its capability, he added.

China will work with all sides to promote the sound and sustained progress of the coordination and cooperation mechanism among neighbors of Afghanistan, and play a positive role in helping the Afghan people realize a safe, secure, and happy life and achieve peace and development at an early date, Wang said.

The participants at the Second Meeting of Foreign Ministers stressed that the current situation in Afghanistan is at a critical stage, and the neighboring countries and important countries in the region should coordinate their positions in a timely manner and take necessary measures to play a bigger role.

Those countries mainly responsible for the current predicament in Afghanistan should honor their commitments in real earnest and provide much-needed assistance to Afghanistan, they noted.

On the premise of respecting the sovereign independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan, the international community should actively engage and talk with it, encourage and guide Afghanistan to form an inclusive government and implement moderate and prudent domestic and foreign policies, to earnestly fulfill its commitments to firmly fighting terrorism, protecting the rights of women, children and ethnic minorities, and living in harmony with other countries in the world, especially neighboring countries, said the participants.

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They also called on the international community, the UN, and other international organizations to provide more emergency humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, deepen economic cooperation and interconnectivity with Afghanistan, and help Afghanistan achieve security, stability and economic reconstruction.

The meeting was held in Tehran, capital of Iran, both online and offline, chaired by Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian. Iranian First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber made an opening speech, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivered a video address.

Turkmen Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Tajik Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin, and Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov attended the meeting. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov took the floor via video link. Yue Xiaoyong, Special Envoy on Afghan Affairs of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, attended the meeting. A joint statement was issued after the meeting. According to the consensus of all parties, the third foreign ministers' meeting will be held in China in 2022.