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SOURCE: HT

Afghanistan’s stability is in the best interests of the US, China and India, the Afghan ambassador to China has said, adding that it is important for New Delhi and Beijing to build trust over Kabul regardless of other issues.

“Afghanistan as a stable country is in favour of countries such as the US, China and India,” the Global Times quoted Ambassador Javid Ahmad Qaem as saying at a press meet with Chinese journalists in Beijing on Tuesday. “It is more important how we and Pakistan can build trust, and how China and India can build trust regarding Afghanistan regardless of other issues. It is about peace in the whole region.”

Qaem’s statement comes ahead of the fourth China-Afghanistan-Pakistan trilateral dialogue to be hosted via video link by Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, Wang Yi on Thursday.

Wang will chair the meet to be attended by counterparts Shah Mahmood Qureshi from Pakistan and Mohammad Haneef Atmar from Afghanistan, the Chinese foreign ministry announced on Wednesday.

The three foreign ministers will have in-depth exchanges of views on the Afghan peace and reconciliation process, practical cooperation and counterterrorism and security cooperation, the ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said.

During his press interaction on Tuesday, Afghan envoy Qaem said that the advantage that China enjoys is that it has good relations with both Afghanistan and Pakistan and can play a critical role in building trust between these two neighbouring countries; trust is the real thing that will bring long-lasting peace in the region.

He also expressed confidence that the Afghan army can deal with the Taliban after the US troop withdrawal. “Since 2014, we have been fighting by ourselves, except for some air support from the US for our national security forces,” Qaem added.

He said around 1,500 Taliban fighters were killed by Afghan forces in May. “We have 350,000 national security forces, among whom there are special forces. We don’t have any fear of losing ground. I don’t see a lot of changes along with the withdrawal.

“The withdrawal would be a surprise more to the Taliban than to us. There is no other way for the Taliban except to come back to the peace table. Therefore, we propose we should have a cease-fire and the international community should put pressure on the Taliban to accept that.”

In May, Wang had said China hopes to see a “moderate Muslim” leadership in Afghanistan in the future and has assured the country of help in strengthening its anti-terrorism capacities as Kabul prepares for the departure of US troops later this year.

In two separate phone calls to Afghanistan’s senior leadership on Monday, Wang laid out what Beijing sees on the road ahead for China-Afghanistan ties. “China hopes that Afghanistan’s future leadership will pursue a moderate Muslim policy, promote a foreign policy of peace, maintain friendship with neighbouring countries, and firmly combat all forms of terrorism. China will continue to play a constructive role in advancing the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan,” Wang told Afghan foreign minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar.

During another phone call the same day with Hamdullah Mohib, national security adviser to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Wang emphasised that China endorses the “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned” principle, adding that Beijing supports all parties in Afghanistan in finding a broad and inclusive political arrangement through peaceful means.