In a first, China moves to resolve Pakistan-Afghanistan row

China has offered to mediate between Pakistan and Afghanistan and help organize a meeting so that the two neighbors can improve their relations, President Ashraf Ghani’s office said in a statement on Tuesday.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi is scheduled to visit Kabul where he will meet Afghan officials and will work to discuss the possibility of organizing a meeting between Afghanistan, Pakistan, the US and China, the statement said.

The four-nation group was formed in January 2016 for reconciliation in Afghanistan through the direct peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

The statement was issued after Ghani held a meeting with women’s rights activists, who raised concern over the security situation in the country, Tolo News reported.

“It is the first time that China wants to be a mediator in Afghanistan’s peace process. Peace with Pakistan was our demand and this must be solved between government-and-government,” Ghani said at the meeting.

Pakistan’s ties with Afghanistan saw a downward spiral when a deadly blast in Kabul on May 31 killed 150 people, making it one of the deadliest attacks in the Afghan capital since the ouster of the Taliban in 2001.

No group claimed responsibly for the attack but the Afghan government blamed the Haqqani network for it and the Afghan intelligence agency claimed the network operates from Pakistan. Following the allegations, Pakistan’s top military commanders took exception to what they called “unwarranted accusations and threats against Pakistan” in the wake of recent upsurge in terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, urging Kabul to look inward to find answers to the current mess in the war-torn country.

President’s deputy spokesman Najibullah Azad said: “This time the quadrilateral meeting which will be held between Afghanistan, Pakistan, US and China would be different compared to past meetings.”

At this meeting, Pakistan must support Afghanistan’s policy over fighting insurgency, he said.

Earlier on Monday, Pakistan confirmed that a Chinese couple abducted at gunpoint has been killed, three days after Daesh militants claimed the killing and sent a video to local journalists purporting to show their bodies.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan confirmed the deaths on Monday, without saying who was behind the killings or whether the bodies have been recovered.

Lee Zing Yang, 24, and Meng Li Si, 26, were taken by gunmen from the southwestern city of Quetta in Balochistan last month.

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