China, Pakistan & Iran discuss joint efforts to deal with security challenges at their first counter-terrorism meet

Beijing: China, Pakistan and Iran held their first meeting on counter-terrorism and security here during which they discussed joint efforts to deal with the “cross-border movement of terrorists” apparently emanating from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

The meeting between the senior security officials of the three countries was held on Wednesday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told media here on Thursday.

The first meeting of the three countries which are neighbours of Afghanistan was held in the backdrop of persistent complaints by Pakistan against the periodic terrorist attacks by the militants of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a Pakistani militant group which shares close ties with Taliban as well as Baloch militants from Iran.

China has also been pressing the Taliban interim administration to crack down on the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) which is active in its Uygur Muslim majority Xinjiang province, neighbouring Afghanistan.

Militants of the ETIM, a separatist militant outfit in Xinjiang allegedly have links with radical outfits like Al Qaeda and Islamic State reportedly regrouped in Afghanistan after the Taliban came to power in 2021.

Wang said during the trilateral meeting “Three sides held an in-depth exchange of views on the regional counter-terrorism situation and joint efforts to tackle the cross-border movement of terrorists, among other issues, and decided to institutionalise the trilateral consultation on counter-terrorism and security”.

The meeting was a successful step taken by the three countries to act on the Global Security Initiative (GSI) initiated by Chinese President Xi Jinping and enhance regional security and stability, he said.

Terrorism is a common enemy of humanity. China firmly opposes and strongly condemns terrorism in all its manifestations, he said.

“We stand ready to work in close collaboration with Pakistan, Iran and other regional countries to resolutely crack down on terrorist forces that endanger the interests of the three countries and regional security”, he said.

Commenting on the trilateral meeting, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said the Pakistani delegation held detailed discussions on the regional security situation, particularly the threat of terrorism faced by the region.

“Based on the outcome of these consultations, the three sides have decided to institutionalise the Trilateral Consultations on counter-terrorism and security,” she said in Islamabad on Thursday.

Pakistan which had celebrated the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan after the sudden pull out of the US troops faced a piquant situation as the Afghan militant group heading the interim administration declined Islamabad repeated pleas to crackdown on TTP whose terrorist attacks were adding to Pakistan’s economic woes.

China and Pakistan have been vocal in highlighting their security concerns over the militant groups from Afghanistan.

In April, this year Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang said at an Afghan neighbouring states conference attended by his counterparts from Russia, Pakistan and Iran in Samarkand that “the terrorism went from bad to worse in Afghanistan. The number of Afghan terror groups has increased to more than 20 today”.

The Samarkand meeting pointed out that all terrorist groups, namely the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-KP), Al-Qaeda, the ETIM, TTP, the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), Jaish al-Adl etc. based in Afghanistan continue to pose a serious threat to regional and global security”, the joint statement said.

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China’s Director-General of the Department of External Security of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bai Tian, Seyed Rasoul Mosavi, Assistant to the Foreign Minister and Director General of South Asia of Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Abdul Hameed, Director General on Counter Terrorism of Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs took part in the Wednesday meeting.

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