‘No military solution’: China & Pakistan slam Trump’s new Afghanistan strategy
The Pakistani and Chinese foreign ministers announced that their two countries and Afghanistan would hold a new series of three-way talks later this year, aiming to reach settlement negotiations with the Taliban.
“It's our firm view that there is no military solution in Afghanistan, the focus should be on a politically-negotiated settlement,” Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said during a visit to Beijing on Friday, as quoted by AP.
“China is playing a very constructive role in this regard,” he added.
That statement comes after Trump did a U-turn on his previous position of disengagement from Afghanistan, instead opting to send more troops to the country. An additional 3,500 US soldiers will soon head to Afghanistan, officials told media this week.
“My original instinct was to pull out, and historically I like following my instincts,” Trump said in a televised speech last month. “But all my life, I’ve heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office.”
If the deployment of 3,500 additional soldiers is confirmed, it will bring the total number of US troops in Afghanistan to around 14,500.
The Friday statement also comes after Trump angered Pakistan in August, accusing it of providing a safe haven to extremists. Last month, the Trump administration announced that $255 million in military aid for Pakistan would be withheld until Islamabad cracked down on extremists threatening neighboring Afghanistan.
“We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting. But that will have to change, and that will change immediately,” Trump said at the time.
Trump also infuriated Islamabad when he voiced the possibility of recruiting India – Pakistan's arch rival – into Washington's strategy in Afghanistan.
However, Pakistan has rejected claims that it is aiding groups including the Taliban-linked Haqqani Network, a position which China backed on Friday.
“The government and people of Pakistan have made huge sacrifices in the fight against terrorism for everyone to see and the international community should recognize that,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.
He added that Beijing is standing behind its “ironclad friend” even though “some countries” do not give Pakistan credit for its fight against terrorism.
Russia, for its part, has slammed Trump's Afghanistan strategy as a “dead-end approach.”
“The main emphasis in the new strategy, which was announced by Washington, is made on settlement through use of force,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a press conference in August. “We believe that it’s a dead-end approach.”
Lavrov also noted that the new strategy allows for negotiations with the Taliban without any preconditions, which jeopardizes the joint international stance formed by the UN Security Council.
He went on to note that the UN Security Council, with the backing of the Afghan government, had ruled to allow the Taliban to enter the negotiation process under conditions that include severing ties with terrorist links, bringing armed resistance to an end and respecting Afghanistan's constitution.
“We maintain the contacts with the Taliban exactly in accordance with these criteria, urging them to comply with these UN Security Council demands,” Lavrov said.