While the third Meeting of Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan's Neighboring Countries is scheduled in China's Anhui Province on Wednesday and Thursday, China will also host a Troika Plus meeting there with Russia, the US and Pakistan over the Afghan situation. Observers said that against the backdrop of the Ukraine crisis, the upcoming meetings on Afghanistan will help congregate the stake-holding parties to help Afghanistan despite their grudges, which showcases China's efforts to promote regional stability and its capability to mediate heated issues.
Yue Xiaoyong, China's special envoy for Afghan affairs, will host the Troika Plus meeting to be attended by representatives from the US, Russia and Pakistan. Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will meet with all the representatives, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a press conference on Tuesday.
"China, the US and Russia are countries that have important influence on Afghan issues. We hope this meeting will actively echo the third Meeting of Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan's Neighboring Countries on further unifying consensus, promoting regional countries and the international community's support to Afghanistan's peaceful rebuilding and helping the country realize peace, stability and development," Wang Wenbin said.
Together with the Troika Plus meeting, there will be three important meetings on Afghanistan in Tunxi, Anhui, this week. Wang Wenbin announced the meeting of the foreign ministers of Afghanistan's neighboring countries and the meeting between the neighboring countries and the Afghan Taliban government. Acting foreign minister of the Afghan interim government, Amir Khan Muttaqi, will attend the meeting.
Despite the Ukraine crisis and deteriorating US-Russia relations, representatives from Russia and the US will join in the meeting together, which underscores China's influence and capability in mediating heated issues, Zhu Yongbiao, director of the Center for Afghanistan Studies in Lanzhou University, told the Global Times.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will visit China on Thursday and lead a delegation to attend the Meeting of Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan's Neighboring Countries, Russia's Foreign Affairs Ministry said.
Russia has always been an important party on Afghan issues and it shares a lot of common concerns with China. Lavrov's visit also showed the close strategic coordination between China and Russia on issues related to regional security, said Zhu.
It is not surprising to see Lavrov's attendance in the meeting in China since Russia has increased its involvement through different mechanisms to avoid terrorism in Afghanistan affecting the security of Central Asia. Russia's interests and stance on Afghanistan are consistent and have not changed with the Ukraine crisis, Wang Shida, deputy director of the South Asia, Southeast Asia and Oceania Research Institute of the Contemporary International Relations Research Academy of China, told the Global Times.
Indian media outlets have also paid great attention to the upcoming meetings on Afghanistan in China, with many focused on the absence of India from these meetings and whether it had been invited for the meeting during Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit to India last week.
Afghan issues and the upcoming meetings may be already discussed during Wang Yi's visit to India, and given India's changing policies toward the Afghan Taliban and its relations with other countries, India may have refused to attend, Zhu noted.
Wang Shidai pointed out that India always thinks that it has major strategic interests in Afghanistan on both political security and economy, and for the past 20 years, it has invested $3 billion in Afghanistan. But with the fall of the former Afghan government, India found it has no effective way to maintain its influence in Afghanistan.
However, given India's support to the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan and its hostile attitude toward the Afghan Taliban, India has limited influence in the current rebuilding of Afghanistan, which added to its worries of not being fully engaged in the current mechanisms on Afghanistan, Wang Shida said.
Zhu noted that China has made great efforts to promote the upcoming meetings. Aside from Wang Yi's visits to Afghanistan and relevant countries last week, with the purpose to make the communication mechanism more diversified and fairer, China also invited Indonesia and Qatar - two countries that had made important contributions in previous Afghan internal reconciliation - to join the upcoming meetings.
The mechanism between Afghanistan and its neighbors is an innovative one that the neighboring countries have built to promote the peaceful transition in Afghanistan. The previous two meetings had yielded joint statements, addressed neighboring countries' core concerns and promoted some progress. The third meeting in China is highly anticipated, Wang Shida said.