China urges Afghans, Pakistan to form crisis-management mechanism

By Kay Johnson

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – China’s foreign minister has urged leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan to improve relations and establish a crisis prevention and management mechanism during visits to both countries, the Chinese foreign ministry said.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi was scheduled to speak in Islamabad on Sunday, a day after meeting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul.

Wang said a three-way conference mechanism involving the two countries and China could promote dialogue and cooperation, the Chinese ministry said in a statement.

“China sincerely wishes for Afghanistan and Pakistan to improve relations, rebuild mutual trust strengthen cooperation, achieve mutual safety and mutually development,” Wang said, according to the statement.

“As Afghanistan and Pakistan’s mutual friend, China encourages them to establish a crisis prevention and management mechanism as soon as possible, to properly deal with any kind of sudden occurrence.”

In Pakistan, Wang “held wide-ranging discussions” on bilateral relations, regional security and the situation in Afghanistan, the Pakistani foreign ministry said in a tweet.

Afghanistan and Pakistan have been uneasy neighbors ever since Pakistan’s independence in 1947.

Their ties have been poisoned in recent years by Afghan accusations that Pakistan is supporting Taliban insurgents fighting the U.S.-backed Kabul in order to limit the influence of its old rival, India, in Afghanistan.

Pakistan denies that and says it wants to see a peaceful, stable Afghanistan.

Several people were killed when Afghanistan and Pakistan border troops exchanged fire for hours in early May. As a result, a major border crossing was closed for more than three weeks.

‘CHINA’S FIGHT’

In his annual Eid al-Fitr message, Afghanistan’s Ghani said he had met Wang and the two had discussed peace and stability and the joint fight against terrorism.

Ghani used the message, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, to call on armed opposition groups including the…

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