Pakistan foreign minister in China to talk about US Afghan pullout

Pakistan's Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, speaks during a joint news conference in Kabul, Afghanistan  on Dec 15, 2018.
Pakistan's Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, speaks during a joint news conference in Kabul, Afghanistan on Dec 15, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP) - The US decision to pull nearly half its troops from restive Afghanistan was high on the agenda at a meeting between the Pakistani and Chinese foreign ministers on Tuesday (Dec 25).

As China looks to expand its role as a peace broker in South Asia, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi met with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi during an official visit to Beijing.

"The two sides agreed that a military means cannot solve the Afghan issue, and that promoting a political solution focused on reconciliation is the only realistic and feasible way," Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular press briefing.

President Donald Trump's decision to pull around half of the 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan has stunned and dismayed diplomats and officials in Kabul, and comes during a renewed push for talks with the Taliban to end the 17-year war.

China has in recent months played a more active role in brokering peace in the region as stability in Afghanistan is critical to its "Belt and Road" policy of expanding trade links across Asia.

Earlier this month, officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan and China met in the Afghan capital Kabul to discuss trade, development and regional security issues. It was the second such meeting between the three neighbours.

Beijing has also hosted Taliban leaders in an effort to bring the warring sides in Afghanistan to the negotiating table.

China has not announced an official stance on the US troop pullout. Pakistan on Saturday welcomed the decision to slash US troop numbers calling it "a step towards peace" in its war-torn neighbour.