China, Pakistan to discuss extension of CPEC with Afghanistan
ISLAMABAD, Feb 7 (Gwadar Pro) - While agreeing to pursue closer cooperation on Afghanistan in the future, China and Pakistan have shown readiness to discuss with Kabul the extension of CPEC to Afghanistan.
This was decided during the three-day visit of Prime Minister Imran to Beijing at the invitation of the Chinese leadership. Besides attending the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games 2022, Imran Khan held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
According to the joint statement between the People’s Republic of China and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the two sides highlighted the significance of Gwadar Port as a central pillar of CPEC and important node in “regional connectivity”.
“On Afghanistan, the two sides agreed that a peaceful, stable, united, safe, and secure Afghanistan is fundamental for prosperity and progress in the region,” reads the joint statement. The leadership of China and Pakistan also expressed satisfaction with the outcome of two Foreign Ministers’ meetings of the six neighbouring countries in Afghanistan and looked forward to its next meeting to be held in China. “They are ready to discuss with Afghanistan the holding of the China-Pakistan-Afghanistan Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue,” read the statement, adding the Chinese side appreciated Pakistan for hosting the 17th Extraordinary Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers on Afghanistan on 19 December 2021.
The two sides underscored the need to expedite humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and its people to avert the looming crisis and called upon the international community to provide continued and enhanced assistance and support to Afghanistan including through unfreezing of Afghanistan’s financial assets.
“Both sides observed that CPEC was a win-win enterprise and pivotal for regional prosperity and enhanced connectivity. As an open and inclusive initiative, third parties were welcome to benefit from investment opportunities in CPEC SEZs,” reads the joint statement.
Afghan leaders have shown interest to become part of CPEC, which could turn the landlocked country into an international business hub. Afghanistan has already started benefiting from Gwadar Port and the country received the first consignment of bulk cargo from the United Arab Emirates in July 2020. Ghulam Khan crossing, at Pak-Afghan border point, is the shortest route connecting CPEC’s western route with Afghanistan, Central Asian States and beyond. The provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has also approved Chitral-Shandor CPEC Route, connecting the district with Gilgit and China.