Xi Jinping calls for a ‘moderate’ Afghanistan

Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended ‘an informal meeting’ with officials from Russia, Pakistan and Iran

China’s President Xi Jinping on Friday called on the new government in Afghanistan “to adopt prudent and moderate” policies and said its neighbours should encourage Kabul to do so, with Beijing stepping up its diplomacy with countries in the region, including Russia, Pakistan and Iran.

Mr. Xi was addressing virtually the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Dushanbe, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi also addressed on Friday. In his speech, Mr. Modi warned of the dangers of radicalisation and extremism posed to the region stemming from the instability there.

Mr. Xi made a similar point, urging the members of the SCO “to encourage Afghanistan to put in place a broad-based and inclusive political framework, adopt prudent and moderate domestic and foreign policies, resolutely fight all forms of terrorism, live in amity with its neighbours and truly embark on a path of peace, stability and development”. He said the country faced “many daunting challenges, and it needs the support and assistance of the international community”, as he called on SCO members “to step up coordination, make full use of platforms such as the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group and facilitate a smooth transition”.

The eight-member SCO, including Russia, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, included Iran as its latest member at the summit. On the Afghanistan issue, China has been stepping up its diplomacy with Russia and Pakistan in particular. Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who attended the summit in Dushanbe, on Thursday held “an informal meeting” with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Assistant to Iranian Foreign Minister Seyed Rasoul Mousavi.

The four country grouping, Mr. Wang said, had a role to play “as important neighbours of Afghanistan and influential countries in the region”. “It is necessary for us four countries to strengthen communication and coordination, make unanimous voices, exert positive influence, and play a constructive role in the smooth transition of the situation in Afghanistan,” Mr. Wang said.

He outlined a five-point proposal for the four countries to follow, including “urging the U.S. to learn lessons from the past”, working to tackle “spillover of security risks” and getting the new Taliban regime “to make a clean break with terrorist forces”, and providing assistance to the war-torn country.

“Regional countries have three main expectations for the new Afghan government: inclusiveness, counter-terrorism and good-neighbourliness,” he said, adding that “China is ready to step up coordination with Russia, Pakistan, Iran and other countries in the region to play a constructive role in preventing chaos, maintaining stability, combating terrorism and violence, realising peace and reconstruction of Afghanistan and ultimately achieving lasting peace in the region.”

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