ISSN 2330-717X

Multilateral Talks In China Through Prism Of Afghanistan And Ukraine – OpEd

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Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi visited China for the third meeting of Foreign Ministers of Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan on 29-31 March 2022 at the invitation of State Councilor and Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi. China chaired the conference at Tunxi, Anhui province of China and Foreign Ministers of Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan including Afghanistan participated in the summit. The main focus of the Foreign Ministers summit was Afghanistan’s peace, humanitarian assistance, conter-terrorism, economic development, and connectivity. Humanitarian needs and economic upheavals have worsened in Afghanistan since the Taliban took over the country in August in last year. The international community has not yet recognized the Taliban government and Afghanistan is in the grip of one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. According to UN report, 40 million Afghans are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

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China’s special envoy to Afghanistan, Liu Jian also hosted his American, Russian and Pakistani counterparts for a new round of talks known as the “troika plus” dialogue process. Previously, a meeting of Troika Plus consisting of Pakistan and three major powers China, Russia, the US including Afghan was hosted by Pakistan on 11th November 2021. Therefore, the multilateral talks on the sideline of third foreign Ministers summit encouraged regional countries and the international community for the support of peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan. Ironically, troika plus talks brought Russian and U.S. officials to the table for the first time since Moscow invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022, which elevated tensions with Washington and West at large.

Beside this, China also hosted a series of bilateral, trilateral and multilateral meetings that attended by the delegates of the United States and Russia to discuss ways to stabilize Afghanistan and convey to Taliban to emphasis on moderate policies to combat terrorism. However, during Pakistani Foreign Minister visit to China, he interacted with his counterparts from the participating countries including Central Asian countries, Russia and Iran and discussed regional issues, peace and stability of south Asia. Before hosting the multilateral talks, earlier this month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang concluded his visit to South Asian states Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, his trip to South Asia came at a time when the spillover effect of the Ukraine crisis had been continuously increasing and the world peace and development were facing new challenges. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during his talk to CGTN said that China deeply feels the strong desire of South Asian countries to maintain the hard-won peace and tranquility in the region and accelerate post-pandemic economic recovery as well as their hope to strengthen strategic communication and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation with China. 

Furthermore, Russia recognized Taliban regime and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov confirmed the accreditation of first Taliban diplomat in Moscow at Afghanistan Conference in China. In bilateral meeting with Chinese counterpart the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov showed interest to work with China on the international and multilateral arena to promote the multipolarization process, oppose hegemony and power politics, and uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. On Ukraine Crisis, Lavrov said that Russia is committed to easing the tensions, continuing peace talks with Ukraine, and maintaining communication with the international community. However, Chinese Foreign Minister said that China supports Russia and Ukraine in overcoming difficulties to continue their peace talks and hopeful in achieving the positive outcomes of negotiations and supports de-escalation of the tensions between Russia and Ukraine.  From a long-term perspective, lessons should be taken from the Ukraine crisis, and all parties’ legitimate security concerns should be responded to on the basis of mutual respect and indivisible security. 

In the nutshell, the Pakistani Foreign Minister’s participation in Troika plus in China indicate that Pakistan fully supports a regional approach on Afghanistan for promoting durable peace and stability in the region. Pakistan also continue to support the international community’s efforts to advance the shared objectives of a peaceful, stable, sovereign, prosperous and connected Afghanistan. Pakistan being a sovereign state respects the sovereignty of other states and in OIC conference it also reiterated the desire of peaceful and diplomatic solution on Ukraine crisis. Pakistan also conveyed readiness to help facilitate a diplomatic solution through OIC platform.

* The writer is an Islamabad based analyst and can be reached at [email protected].

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