China willing to cooperate with India, Pak on Afghanistan

BEIJING: As India and Pakistan are set to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), China on Wednesday said it is “willing” to cooperate with both the countries to work for the stability of war-torn Afghanistan.

“Since 2009, SCO has had many contacts with Afghanistan, and we are also willing to cooperate with India and Pakistan on the Afghan issue,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying told a media briefing here on Wednesday.

“We hope to play a constructive role to this end. Afghanistan is an important country and observer of SCO, and its situation bears on the security and stability of Central Asia,” Hua said.

As a founder, China wields considerable influence on the six-member grouping.

The entry of India and Pakistan into the SCO comes at a time when China is beginning to play a major role in Afghanistan ahead of the withdrawal of US and Nato troops.

It also hosted meetings between officials of Afghanistan government and Taliban, who also met in Pakistan on Tuesday.

With enhanced cooperation in various areas of the SCO, it has become more influential in the world, Hua said.

“SCO has much experience and capacity in anti-terrorism and drugs and combating cross border crime and developing economy, and willing to enhance cooperation with Afghanistan,” she said.

Hua was responding to a question on how China viewed the impact of India and Pakistan’s entry into SCO on the situation in Afghanistan.

“Based on documents passed in the Dushanbe Summit (last year), the Ufa Summit will push forward the expansion process and ratify the proposal to include India and Pakistan as SCO members. This month, India and Pakistan will officially start their accession into the SCO,” Hua said referring to commencement of admission of the two countries, which are till now observers in the SCO.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif will attend the Summit this year, though as per procedures the two countries will formally become members next year, according to SCO officials.

China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan are the regular members of SCO.

Till now India along with Afghanistan, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan had the observer status in the organisation which mainly focussed on the anti-terrorism cooperation among the member states.

Belarus, Turkey and Sri Lanka are dialogue partners.

SCO, stated to be a Eurasian political, economic and military organization focussing on anti-terrorism cooperation was founded in 2001.

The SCO headquartered in Beijing has a full-fledged Regional Counter-Terrorism Structure (RCTS) in Tashkent to promote anti-terrorism cooperation which organises regular anti-terrorism drills.

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