In a first, China has shown interest in mediating talks between Afghanistan and Pakistan to improve relations between the troubled neighbours. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is expected to visit Kabul soon in an effort to play a pivotal role in the region's long-elusive stability.
Relations between Pakistan and war-torn Afghanistan, which is witnessing a surge in Islamist insurgency, have hit a low point threatening regional security. Despite various attempts by the US and other powers, the Afghan unrest has defied a solution.
As the situation continues to worsen, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani told a gathering in Kabul: "It is the first time that China wants to be a mediator in Afghanistan's peace process and soon the Chinese foreign minister will visit Kabul. Peace with Pakistan was our demand and this must be solved between government and government."
Following his remarks, the presidential office issued a formal statement confirming Wang's arrival at an unspecified date. The statement said Wang will also aim to coordinate talks with all the major players – Afghanistan, Pakistan, the US and China – in addressing the shortcomings on security-related matters.
Formally known as the Quadrilateral Coordination Committee, the four-nation group was set up in January 2016 primarily to moderate negotiations between the Afghan government and Taliban. Since its inception, there has been no significant breakthrough in the peace process in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is reeling under a series of deadly extremist attacks in the past few months with insurgent groups constantly stepping up their offensive against poorly equipped Afghan forces. Kabul has also accused Islamabad of indirectly supporting the insurgency battering the country.
"This time the quadrilateral meeting which will be held between Afghanistan, Pakistan, US and China would be different compared to past meetings. At this meeting, Pakistan must support Afghanistan's policy over fighting insurgency. When needed, the evidence will also be provided to the UN," Najibullah Azad, deputy spokesman for Ghani, told reporters when asked about Pakistan's role in the conference.