China-Pakistan Economic Corridor may be expanded to Afghanistan

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KABUL (TCA) — China has reportedly looked into the possibility of expanding the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to war-ravaged Afghanistan, Russia’s Sputnik news agency reported.

A trilateral meeting between Pakistan, China, and Afghanistan will take place this coming Saturday in Islamabad, diplomatic sources in Pakistan said.

“One of the major topics of the meeting will be the expansion of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan and of course the Afghan peace process,” the official added.

Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi will attend the meeting in Islamabad while Foreign Minister S.M. Qureshi will represent the Pakistani side.

The statement came as Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. diplomat who has led nearly a year of negotiations with the Taliban in Qatar, has announced that the two sides had reached a deal “in principle” to end the nearly 18-year war in Afghanistan.

China and Pakistan have been exploring ways to expand the $50 billion CPEC to Afghanistan since last November.

The two countries aim to connect Gwadar Port with railway networks to Afghanistan. Works are underway to join China’s Xinjiang province with Pakistan’s province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Media reports suggest that Beijing has proposed to lay a railway line from Peshawar to Kabul or even up to Mazar-i-Sharif in Afghanistan by 2030. This network will directly connect Gwadar in Pakistan to the Central Asian states.

Sergey Kwan

TCA