China official links security to peace in Afghanistan
February 24, 2014 - 6:56:06 am
KABUL: China urged its neighbour Afghanistan on Saturday to embrace an inclusive political solution to its long-running conflict during a rare visit by a top Chinese official, who said the very security of his own country’s western regions depended on peace.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi was due to meet President Hamid Karzai during his visit, which coincides with preparations by US and allied troops to draw down their forces after more than 12 years of fighting Taliban extremists.
China, which shares a short border with Afghanistan in the country’s mountainous northeastern corridor, has become increasingly concerned about security in its western region of Xinjiang, where it says Muslim extremists receive help from militants in neighbouring countries.
“The peace and stability of this country has an impact on the security of western China, and more importantly, it affects the tranquility and development of the entire region,” Wang told a news conference alongside his Afghan counterpart, Zarar Ahmad Osmani.
“We hope to see a broad-based and inclusive political reconciliation in Afghanistan as soon as possible, and China will play a constructive role to facilitate that...A divided country will have no future.”
Wang last visited Kabul in early 2002 when he was vice foreign minister and reopened China’s embassy after the fall of the Islamist Taliban government.
His visit coincides with a time of transition for Afghanistan, ahead of both the year-end deadline for the pull-out of foreign troops and an April presidential election.
Eleven candidates, representing different ethnic, tribal and religious groups, are competing to replace Karzai, who has served two terms as Afghanistan’s elected president. All pledge to end decades of civil war and insurgent conflict. China has been stepping up its engagement with other regional players in recent months in Afghanistan, Beijing-based diplomats say. REUTERS