Foreign Minister Wang Yi (C), Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani (L) and Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, meet the press after the 1st China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue, in Beijing, capital of China, Dec 26, 2017. [Photo/Xinhua]
BEIJING — Foreign ministers from China, Pakistan and Afghanistan on Dec 26 agreed to discuss ways to extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan.
“In the long run, through Afghanistan, we will gradually connect the CPEC with the China-Central and Western Asia Economic Corridor,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters after China-Afghanistan-Pakistan foreign ministers’ meeting in Beijing.
As important neighbor of China and Pakistan, Afghanistan has an urgent desire to develop its economy and improve people’s livelihood, and it is willing to integrate itself into the process of regional interconnection, said Wang.
“With regard to specific cooperation projects and ways of cooperation, we will determine through tripartite consultations on an equal footing,” he said.
Improving livelihoods in border areas may be an entry point for the extension, said Wang, noting that the three parties agreed to promote wider connectivity under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.
The CPEC is a network of highways, railways, pipelines and optical cables, and a flagship project under the Belt and Road Initiative, currently under construction throughout Pakistan.
The 3,000-km-long corridor starts from China’s Kashgar and ends at Pakistan’s Gwadar, connecting the Silk Road Economic Belt in the north and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road in the south.
Wang said the CPEC has not targeted at any third party, but hopes to bring benefits to the entire region and become an important driving force for regional integration.
“The CPEC is an economic cooperation project and should not be politicized,” he said, noting that it has no relationship with existing disputes in the region, including territorial disputes, nor should it be related.
As the first meeting of its kind since the three countries agreed to establish a trilateral dialogue mechanism in June, the foreign ministers’ meeting aims for dialogue between Afghanistan and Pakistan and to reinforce trilateral cooperation in politics, economy and security.