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CPEC will be extended to Afghanistan as trilateral cooperation set to deepen

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s, China’s, and Afghanistan’s foreign ministers have reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening trilateral cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and jointly extending the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan.

Following the trilateral meeting, the three parties released a joint statement emphasizing their desire to capitalize on Afghanistan’s potential as a regional connectivity center.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari of Pakistan, State Councillor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang of China, and Acting Foreign Minister Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi of Afghanistan all spoke on behalf of their countries.

The three foreign ministers stressed the importance of ongoing projects such as CASA-1000, TAPI, and Trans-Afghan Railways at the conference, emphasizing their potential to increase regional connectivity and support economic development and prosperity in the area.

The three parties agreed on the importance of advancing “hard connectivity” in infrastructure as well as “soft connectivity” in norms and standards.

They agreed to investigate steps to facilitate people’s movement and trade activity. They also determined to increase transit traffic through Gwadar Port.

Three governments pledge to prevent the TTP and ETIM from using their territories to undermine security; the necessity to avoid interfering in Afghan affairs is emphasized.

The foreign ministers agreed that a peaceful, stable, and prosperous Afghanistan is in the region’s best interests. They stressed the need for trilateral collaboration in achieving this goal.

The three parties committed to deepening and expanding their collaboration in the areas of security, development, and politics, guided by the principles of mutual respect, equal footing, and mutual benefit.

The three parties emphasized the necessity of resolving security concerns that pose a substantial threat to regional and global security and have a direct impact on the region’s stability and economic success. They committed to collaborating on security issues such as organized crime, drug smuggling, and others.

They urged the international community to expand bilateral and multilateral collaboration and to supply relevant countries with the required supplies, equipment, and technical assistance.

The three parties emphasized the importance of not allowing any individual, group, or party, including the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), to use their territories to harm or threaten regional security and interests, or to carry out terrorist activities. They also emphasized the importance of not meddling in Afghan domestic matters and instead focusing on achieving peace, stability, and reconstruction in the country.

The ministers stressed the importance of identifying viable avenues to restore the Afghan economy, emphasizing the necessity to enhance economic activity in Afghanistan.

As a first step towards this goal, they decided to investigate increased funding for Afghanistan’s reconstruction as well as trilateral investment opportunities that boost industrialization and employment development.

They expressed their sympathy with the people of Afghanistan and emphasized the critical need for long-term and urgent humanitarian assistance, especially financial needs for humanitarian operations. They emphasized that humanitarian assistance to Afghans should not be related to political considerations.

They expressed satisfaction with the current trilateral cooperation and agreed to carry out exchange and training programmes, as well as strengthen people-to-people exchanges, through the implementation of trilateral programmes in accordance with the List of China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Practical Cooperation Projects adopted by the foreign ministers during this dialogue.

The three parties reaffirmed their cooperation in mutually beneficial areas such as economic development, capacity building, and improving livelihoods. Agriculture, trade, energy, capacity building, and border management are among the areas where the ministers agreed to strengthen cooperation.

The ministers also urged the international community to engage constructively with Afghanistan, recognizing the efforts made through various institutions and formats, such as the Afghan Neighboring Countries, to foster conversation and constructive engagement with the Afghan Interim Government.

The ministers also asked the international community to support Afghanistan in effectively combating narcotics and developing alternative crops in order to strengthen the country’s potential for self-sufficiency and long-term development.

They urged the relevant countries to suspend unilateral sanctions against Afghanistan, return assets to the Afghan people, and offer chances for economic development and prosperity in Afghanistan.

Taking note of the Afghan Interim Government’s repeated assurances that women’s rights and interests would be respected and protected, they urged the international community to support Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development, as well as to assist Afghanistan in improving governance and strengthening capacity building in order to effectively protect the basic rights and interests of all segments of Afghan society, including women and children.

The ministers thanked neighboring nations, particularly Pakistan, for hosting millions of Afghan refugees and giving exceptional hospitality.

They urged the international community to provide the necessary support and assistance to these nations and Afghanistan in order for refugees to return in dignity and be reintegrated into Afghan society.

The three parties reaffirmed their commitment to sustaining the trilateral cooperation framework, including the Director-General Level Practical Cooperation Dialogue, as well as to establishing tighter, good-neighborly relations and partnerships.

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