Pakistan, China, Russia agree to expand talks on Afghanistan
December 28, 2017
ISLAMABAD: Russia, China and
Pakistan on Tuesday agreed to expand their tripartite consultations on Afghan
conflict and include other countries, including Afghanistan, after Kabul objected to its absence from the regional discussions.
“The parties agreed to
proceed with consultations in an expanded format and would welcome the
participation of Afghanistan,” a joint statement issued after a meeting of the
senior officials of the three countries said.
It was the third round of
talks between the three countries on “deteriorating situation in Afghanistan”,
particularly the rise of the militant Islamic State (IS) group also known by
its Arabic acronym Daesh.
objects to exclusion from tripartite meeting
The previous two rounds of
the tripartite meetings were not publicly disclosed. The third meeting was
announced by the participating states in an indication of their growing
confidence in their cooperation driven by the fear of IS gaining a foothold in
Afghanistan. The announcement of the talks, however, annoyed Kabul, which
questioned the effectiveness of a process on Afghanistan without its
A spokesman for the Afghan
Foreign Ministry, Ahmad Shekib Mostaghni, while speaking to media in Kabul
cautioned that no initiative relating to Afghanistan could succeed without its
involvement. “Even if such talks are organised with goodwill, [they] cannot
yield any substantial results because no one from the Afghan side is there,” he
said in a diplomatically couched criticism of the trilateral meeting.
The meeting had provoked a
storm of protest from Afghan leaders, who saw it as “meddling in Afghanistan’s
internal affairs”, “illegitimate” and “dubious”. Speaker of the lower house of
Afghan parliament Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi had asked the government to seek a
clarification from Moscow about the meeting.
Meanwhile, Russia is also
supporting Iran’s entry into the relatively new process. Tehran has been
Moscow’s ally in the fight against IS in Syria. In a separate troika formed
last week, Russia, Iran and Turkey reaffirmed “their determination to jointly
fight the IS”.
Washington had felt upset
over not being included in that anti-IS bloc and is now uncomfortable over
being left out from the three-way deliberations on the situation in
The tripartite meeting on
Tuesday expressed concerns over the increased activity of IS in Afghanistan.
Russians believe that
protracted conflict in Afghanistan has left ungoverned spaces there, which are
being taken up by the IS fighters returning from Iraq and Syria, where the
militant group is on the retreat.
According to the Voice of
America, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, told the UN
Security Council last week that the deteriorating security situation in the
country had encouraged the IS militants fleeing Syria and Iraq to look to
Afghanistan for shelter. He said they would eventually pose a threat to Russia
through neighbouring central Asian states.
FO spokesman Nafees Zakaria,
while sharing Pakistan’s position at a recent media briefing, said:
“Afghanistan is infested with most terrorist organisations due to the
instability there, which has created space for these terrorist elements. These
are the facts which are known to all.”
The three countries
reiterated their support for reconciliation process in Afghanistan. “The
participants agreed to continue their efforts towards further facilitating the
Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan
according to the known principles of reintegration of the armed opposition into
peaceful life,” the joint statement said.
“The Russian Federation and
the People’s Republic of China as the UN Security Council permanent members
confirmed their flexible approach to delisting Afghan individuals from the UN
sanctions lists as their contribution to the efforts aimed at launching
peaceful dialogue between Kabul and the Taliban,” the statement further noted.
The position on delisting
looked to be a snub for Kabul that had last month asked the United Nations to
add Taliban’s new leader, Maulvi Haibatullah, to its sanctions list.