Beijing: India has not been excluded from the efforts to bring peace in Afghanistan, China said Monday, days after it hosted a key meeting with the US, Russia and Pakistan on facilitating peace process in the war-torn country.
Representatives of China, Russia, and the US held their 3rd consultation on the Afghan peace process in Beijing on July 10-11 following which they also requested Pakistan to join for a surprise quadrilateral meeting.
“China, Russia, and the United States welcomed Pakistan joining the consultation and believe that Pakistan can play an important role in facilitating peace in Afghanistan”, a joint statement issued at the end of the meeting said.
US special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad, who is currently holding talks with the Taliban to work out an agreement for withdrawal of the US troops and participation of the rebel group in the Afghan government, attended the meeting.
Briefing reporters about the meeting here on Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said “we have reached some consensus and exchanged views on the current situation in Afghanistan and our effort to help to restore peace and security”.
He said all four countries had agreed to step up coordination and communication and jointly promote reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan.
Hinting that the quadrilateral meeting could be institutionalised in the future, Geng said the future meetings of the four countries will take place with mutual consultations. Asked why India was not invited to the meeting, he said “China has been in close communication and coordination with all parties including India” on the Afghanistan issue.
The four countries have decided to hold the meeting based on mutual understanding, he said.
“I believe we (China, Russia, the US and Pakistan) don’t exclude India in discussing and helping early settlement of the Afghanistan issue,” he said.
The invitation to Pakistan to take part in the meeting came ahead of its Prime Minister Imran Khan’s first visit to the US starting from July 21 to hold talks with US President Donald Trump during which the peace process in Afghanistan is expected to come up.
In December last year, President Donald Trump announced that the US would pull out troops from Afghanistan.
The US still has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan, nearly 18 years after the US-led invasion to topple the Taliban.
Afghanistan accuses Pakistan of harbouring the Taliban militants who have been carrying out violent attacks and destabilising the country.