Donald Trump's Afghanistan strategy: China defends Pakistan again, says US must respect its sovereignty

Beijing: The US should recognise Pakistan's "important role" in Afghanistan and respect its sovereignty and legitimate security concerns, China's top diplomat told Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, defending Beijing's all-weather ally for a second time in as many days.

State Councillor Yang Jiechi's remarks came two days after US president Donald Trump sternly warned Pakistan against providing safe heavens to militants.

China, Pakistan. Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Trump on Tuesday unveiled his Afghan policy and also sought an enhanced role for India in bringing peace in the war-ravaged country.

Yang during a phone call with Tillerson on Wednesday defended Pakistan's role in Afghanistan.

"We should attach importance to Pakistan's important role in Afghanistan and respect Pakistan's sovereignty and legitimate security concerns," Yang said.

Elaborating on Yang’s intervention expressing full backing for Pakistan, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told the media that China "valued Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan issue and respect Pakistan’s sovereign and reasonable security concerns".

China's foreign ministry had also backed Pakistan soon after Trump's statement.

"(On the) President Trump's remarks on Pakistan, I should say that Pakistan is in the frontline of fighting terrorism, made sacrifices to fighting terrorism, making important contribution to upholding peace and stability," Hua had said on Tuesday.

She had said that the international community should truly affirm the efforts by Pakistan on the matter.

In his policy address on Afghanistan and South Asia, Trump had said the pillar of his new strategy was a change in America's approach to Pakistan, considered a long-time ally of Washington.

Trump’s tough speech on Pakistan came as its Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua held talks with Chinese top officials including foreign minister Wang Yi during her maiden visit in the last few days.

Highlighting the importance of her talks, Hua told the media on Thursday that "China and Pakistan are all-weather friends and partners. We have always given to each other support to our core issues and interests".

She also lauded Pakistan's support to USD 50 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) over which India has raised protests as it traversed through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

"Against the current backdrop, we appreciate Pakistani efforts in ensuring security as well as anti-terrorism cooperation in the CPEC," she said.

For her part, Janjua said "Pakistan will not change its policy towards China no matter how the domestic situation varies".

Pakistan will remain committed to the CPEC as well as promoting new advancement in our bilateral relations," Hua quoted her as saying.

Updated Date: Aug 24, 2017 17:15 PM

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