Chinese Foreign Minister visits Pakistan, Afghanistan

Amid reports of Trump administration set to go tough on Pakistan China tells US to respect Islamabad's sovereignity

State media reported that the visiting minister held talks with Pakistan's foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz and other Pakistani officials, including foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua, to discuss bilateral ties with Afghanistan, and securing peace and stability with the neighbouring country.

In a joint press release on Sunday, Pakistan, China and Afghanistan expressed their commitment to maintain regional peace and stability, enhance regional connectivity and economic cooperation and promote shared security and development.

Last week, India and Afghanistan opened a direct commercial air route, bypassing Pakistan with which ties of both the neighbours have soured over the issue of terrorism.

"This will enable the two sides to maintain timely and effective communications for counter-terrorism and other emergencies", it added. The Chinese side would support this mechanism.

Afghanistan-Pakistan-US-China Quadrilateral Coordination Group met for the first time in January and May 2016 to convince Afghan Taliban for peace talks but the process remained ineffective.

The three parties believe that peace and reconciliation is the fundamental solution to the Afghan issue, which could not be solved by violent means.

"China of course is ready to play a constructive role in political relations", Wang said.

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"That's the kind of role that the USA would like to encourage and perhaps maybe even cooperate in terms of development projects", the official said on condition of anonymity.

The three parties had in-depth exchange of views on the Afghan issue, the relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan and China-Afghanistan-Pakistan trilateral cooperation. It would have a great impact [on relationship between the two neighbours] in case of implementation, ' Dawn quoted Sharif as saying regarding frequent allegations levelled by Afghanistan against Pakistan.

"China sincerely wishes for Afghanistan and Pakistan to improve relations, rebuild mutual trust strengthen cooperation, achieve mutual safety and mutually development", Wang said, according to the statement. In a huge snub to China, India did not attend a summit in Beijing earlier this month that saw 60 countries including the U.S. attending the session on President Xi Jinping's signature project.

Ahead of his departure from Islamabad, the Chinese foreign minister told a press briefing that his shuttle diplomacy was aimed at mediating between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and help the reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

President Donald Trump's administration is also expected to increase pressure on Islamabad to prevent Taliban insurgents and their ally, the dreaded Haqqani network, from using Pakistani soil for deadly attacks in Afghanistan.

Rabbani thanked China for its important role in peace, stability and economic development of Afghanistan.

"My thoughts are that if Afghanistan is in peace then world is in peace, so we want to sympathise and cooperate with the world", Gharghasht said.

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