China to host meeting of Afghanistan’s neighbors to tackle humanitarian needs, urge US return Afghan assets

From Global Times
From Global Times
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Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will host the third Meeting of Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan's Neighboring Countries in China on March 30 and 31. Analysts said the meeting will focus on humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people and call on the US to return the Afghan people's assets.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin announced on Monday that foreign ministers or representatives from Pakistan, Iran, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are scheduled to attend the meeting in Tunxi, East China's Anhui Province.

Wang Yi will host the meeting, and acting foreign minister of the Afghan interim government Amir Khan Muttaqi will attend. Foreign ministers of Indonesia and Qatar will also be invited to join as special guests, according to Wang Wenbin.

The news came after Wang Yi wrapped up his trip to Afghanistan on Thursday, a trip that many foreign media described as surprising, while analysts noted China's role in easing the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Observers noted that one of the major themes of the regional visit is to communicate with involved parties to prepare for the meeting among foreign ministers of countries neighboring Afghanistan.

The meetings among foreign ministers of Afghanistan's neighbors come at a time when international attention has largely moved to the Ukraine crisis from the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. The meetings in China will call on the world to continue to assist Afghanistan and pool resources for the war-torn country, Zhu Yongbiao, director of the Center for Afghanistan Studies in Lanzhou University, told the Global Times on Monday.

The neighboring countries may also call on the US to fulfill its responsibility to Afghanistan, unfreeze the assets of the Afghan people and help with its rebuilding, Zhu said.

More than 421,800 netizens have signed an online petition launched by the Global Times demanding the US unconditionally return the life-saving money of Afghanistan frozen in the US as the US' theft has sparked outrage.

In response to China's expectation for the upcoming meetings, Wang Wenbin told a press conference on Monday that the Afghan situation is at a crucial period and the Afghan people are facing many internal and external challenges and in need of more support and help from outside.

China hopes the meeting could help the international community know more about the Afghan people's problems and needs, passing the neighbors' care to them, promote it to build an inclusive government, and call on the US to take its main responsibility in economic rebuilding in Afghanistan, Wang Wenbin said.

Aside from topics on humanitarian assistance, the meetings will also focus on urging the Afghan Taliban interim government to honor its promises on building an inclusive government, protecting women's rights and fighting terrorism, Zhu said, noting that neighboring countries may also talk about plans to build trans-national or trans-regional routes and pipeline projects as neighboring countries are deeply concerned.

Wang Yi met with Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra in Tunxi on March 20 and will soon host meetings with neighboring counties and Afghanistan. Zhu Weilie, the Honorary Director of the Middle East Studies Institute of the Shanghai International Studies University, told the Global Times on Monday that Tunxi has become a main diplomatic place for China to play a more active role in regional issues or take the initiative in helping solving tough issues.

Zhu Weilie noted that the upcoming meetings also involve complicated geopolitical factors, and each party has its own focus. But China's main purpose is to mediate and give priority to the livelihood and humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people.

Zhu Weilie noted that the Afghan Taliban has also attached great importance to the upcoming meeting as neighboring countries are also important to it not only for the country's rebuilding but also for its efforts to seek international recognition.

The international community has a consensus that maintaining engagement with the Afghan Taliban is very important to help with the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, and urging the Taliban to fulfill its promise is very important. But there is still a long way for the Taliban interim government to be recognized, analysts said.