Beijing and Islamabad are considering extending the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor into Afghanistan, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Tuesday, Reuters reported.
The economic corridor is part of China’s ambitious One Belt, One Road project, which links it with other parts of Asia and Europe.
Wang Yi made the announcement after the first trilateral meeting between China, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Wang said including Afghanistan in the route would help improve the country’s development. “Afghanistan has an urgent need to develop and improve people’s lives,” Wang said.
He added that Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed to mend their strained relations to make the plan work. Ties between the two countries have worsened, especially after the Afghanistan government accused Pakistan of supporting Taliban insurgents. Islamabad, however, has denied this.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said his country and China were “iron brothers”. He, however, did not talk about Afghanistan joining the corridor.
“The successful implementation of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects will serve as a model for enhancing connectivity and cooperation through similar projects with neighboring countries,” he said.
The three countries also agreed to ensure that no group or individual uses their territories for terrorism, PTI reported.
India and the economic corridor
India has reiterated repeatedly that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the One Belt, One Road project does not respect its territorial integrity. Parts of the corridor would run through the disputed Pakistan-occupied Kashmir region.
However, Wang said China’s plan to include Afghanistan in the project has nothing to do with territorial disputes, Reuters said.