SCO Offers Platform To Improve Indo-Pak Ties: China

BEIJING — The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) could serve as a "great vehicle" to improve ties between India and Pakistan as the grouping provides a better platform and opportunities for building their bilateral relations, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said.

The remarks by Wang, who has been appointed as the Special Representative of the India-China boundary talks, came as the SCO summit concluded at Qingdao yesterday, the first summit after the admission of India and Pakistan into the eight-member grouping last year.

"We know there are existing and historical, unresolved issues and conflicts between Pakistan and India. But I think after their joining of the SCO, maybe we can say that their relationship might be better as the grouping provides a better platform and opportunities for building the relations between them," Wang said in an interview to state-run CGTN.

“Because when joining the SCO, a series of agreements had to be signed and pledges had to be made. One of the key pillars (of joining the SCO) is to keep good and friendly relations and they should not see each other as opponents, much less enemies," said Wang, who was recently promoted as the State Councillor, a top diplomatic posting in China.

"Because they have signed these agreements, they shoulder a responsibility for implementing them. I feel that the SCO serves as a great vehicle for bettering the two nations' relations," he said, the first detailed comments on the entry of India, Pakistan into the grouping in which China plays an influential role.

 “As a result, it will better safeguard the peace and stability of the region. We see although their relations have seen their ups and downs, if we look at the bigger picture, they are progressing nevertheless,” Wang said.

At the end of the SCO summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain exchanged pleasantries after a press conference by the leaders of the grouping.

Pakistan delegation had a low key presence at the meeting as country is poised for general elections on July 25.

In his interview, Wang said Afghanistan will be a top priority for SCO as all its member countries shared borders with it.

The consultation mechanism of the SCO on the level of vice foreign ministers toward resolving Afghanistan's issues has been rebooted, and certain related agreements have been signed, Wang said.

Recently, a vice foreign ministers' conference was held in Beijing, and all parties reached a consensus. 

“It is commonly agreed that only through joint efforts can we ensure the continued progress of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan," he said.

President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani recently announced a ceasefire, and the Taliban responded with a temporary ceasefire.

“We're happy to see the coming agreement and positive outcomes from both sides. It shows the hopes and opportunities for all the parties, even though the conflicts and divisions cannot be solved all at once," Wang said. 

The SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan became its members last year.

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