19:43 GMT +308 December 2019
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    U.S. soldiers patrol the perimeter of a weapons cache four miles of the US military base in Bagram, Afghanistan (File)

    China-Pakistan Economic Corridor May Find Inroad in Afghanistan After US Troop Withdrawal

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    New Delhi (Sputnik): With the peace process between the US and the Taliban approaching its fruition, China has reportedly looked into the possibility of expanding the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to the war-ravaged Central Asian country.

    A trilateral meeting between Pakistan, China, and Afghanistan will take place this Saturday in Islamabad, diplomatic sources in Pakistan said.

    "One of the major topics of the meeting will be the expansion of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan and of course the Afghan peace process," the official added.

    Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi will attend the meeting in Islamabad while Foreign Minister S.M. Qureshi will represent the Pakistani side.

    The statement came against the backdrop of the announcement of a long-awaited peace deal in war-torn Afghanistan between the US and the Taliban earlier this week.

    The US special envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, told an Afghan news channel in Kabul that the US would withdraw some 5,000 troops from Afghanistan within 135 days of signing the peace deal with the Taliban.

    "We are at the threshold of an agreement that will reduce violence and open the door for Afghans to sit together to negotiate an honourable and sustainable peace and a unified, sovereign Afghanistan that does not threaten the United States, its allies, or any other country", Zalmay Khalilzad tweeted on 1 September after the conclusion of another round of talks in Doha.

    China and Pakistan have been exploring ways to expand the $50 billion CPEC to Afghanistan since last November.

    The two countries aim to connect Gwadar Port with railway networks to Afghanistan. Works are underway to join China's Xinjiang province with Pakistan's province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

    Media reports suggest that Beijing has proposed to lay a railway line from Peshawar to Kabul or even up to Mazar-i-Sharif in Afghanistan by 2030. This network will directly connect Gwadar in Pakistan to the Central Asian states.

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    agreement, Army, troops, Gwadar Port, foreign minister, Afghanistan, China, Pakistan
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