China, Pakistan consider extending economic cooperation to Afghanistan

China and Pakistan offered to include Afghanistan in their $50 billion economic project during talks Tuesday in Beijing.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (C) and his counterparts, Khawaja Muhammad Asif (R) from Pakistan and Salahuddin Rabbani from Afghanistan (L), pose for photos after their joint news conference at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on Tuesday. Photo by Roman Pilipey/EPA-EFE
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (C) and his counterparts, Khawaja Muhammad Asif (R) from Pakistan and Salahuddin Rabbani from Afghanistan (L), pose for photos after their joint news conference at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on Tuesday. Photo by Roman Pilipey/EPA-EFE

The three countries announced they plan to discuss ways to extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan. CPEC includes highways, railways, pipelines and optical cables being built as part of Pakistan’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters that cooperation could improve livelihoods along border areas.

“In the long run, through Afghanistan, we will gradually connect the CPEC with the China-Central and Western Asia Economic Corridor,” he said.

Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani and Pakistani Minister of Foreign Affairs Khawaja Asif also took part in the trilateral dialogue.

“The successful implementation of CPEC projects will serve as a model for enhancing connectivity and cooperation through similar projects in neighboring countries including Afghanistan, Iran and Central and West Asia,” Asif said.

Wang said the arrangement would be independent of any disputes between the countries.

“The CPEC is an economic cooperation project and should not be politicized,” he said.

By Danielle Haynes