China to hold key conference on Afghanistan

China will hold the fourth foreign ministerial conference of the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan in Beijing on October 31, the foreign ministry said on Friday.

PTI| Updated: Oct 24, 2014, 22:46 PM IST

Beijing: China will hold the fourth foreign ministerial conference of the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan in Beijing on October 31, the foreign ministry said on Friday.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Afghan counterpart Zarar Ahmad Osmani will co-chair the meeting, which will be attended by foreign ministers or senior representatives from Afghanistan's neighbours and near-neighbours, spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular news briefing.

The meeting will take place amid Afghanistan's new president Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai's state visit to China, due from October 28 to 31.

It is Ghani's first foreign visit since taking office in September.

This meeting is of great significance as it is the first time China is hosting a major international meeting on Afghanistan and also the first such meeting since the formation of the Afghan new government, Hua said.

In November 2011, China, Russia, Afghanistan and Central Asian countries reached an agreement in Turkey known as the Istanbul Process, presenting a new vision for regional cooperation for a secure and stable Afghanistan.

The 14 members include Afghanistan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Russia and Turkey and 28 supporting parties include the US, Britain, the UN and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

"It is the only regional cooperation mechanism led by regional countries on Afghanistan issues and has played a positive role in promoting Afghanistan's reconstruction," Hua said.

Afghanistan is now in political, security and economic transition.

China hopes this meeting will reflect international support for Afghan peace and reconstruction, garner will from regional countries to enhance cooperation on Afghanistan issues and maintain Afghan and regional security, state-run Xinhua quoted her as saying.

Most American and NATO combat troops will pull back from Afghanistan by the end of this year.

Around 10,000 US troops will remain there to train and advise the Afghan security forces and carry out counter-terror missions, according to a US-Afghan security agreement signed in September.