China, Pakistan, Afghanistan foreign ministers to meet

China will chair a meeting with the Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan and Pakistan on Thursday as Beijing looks to step up its engagement with both Kabul and Islamabad amid the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

China’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday the fourth meeting between the three countries’ foreign ministers will be held via video link and would be chaired by China.

The ministers are expected to address “new uncertainties” in the wake of “the unilateral withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces at a critical stage” of the peace process, China’s foreign ministry said.

Afghanistan’s Ambassador to China, Javid Qaem, was quoted as telling Chinese media this week that China’s “good relations with both Afghanistan and Pakistan” could see Beijing playing “a critical role in building trust between these two neighbouring countries”.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi last month, in a phone call with Afghan National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib, offered “to facilitate internal negotiations among various parties in Afghanistan, including creating necessary conditions for negotiations in China.”