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Pakistan discussing expansion of CPEC to Afghanistan -ambassador By Reuters


By Charlotte Greenfield

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan has discussed Taliban-led Afghanistan joining the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) infrastructure project, the Pakistani ambassador to the country said on Monday.

In an interview with Reuters, Mansoor Ahmed Khan, Pakistan’s envoy in Kabul said that regional connectivity was an essential element of the discussions with Afghan leaders and how we can move forward with our economic interaction.

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor, an important project, “provides good opportunities, good potential and provides infrastructure and energy connectivity (between Afghanistan and Pakistan).”

CPEC forms part of China Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is a key component of the Belt and Road Initiative. Beijing pledged $60 billion to Pakistan for its infrastructure projects, most of it as loans.

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Khan claimed that negotiations had been held between the Taliban-led administration and Khan on how to improve the economy.

There has been a lot of interest expressed in the development of economic connectivity for Afghanistan and Pakistan using CPEC. This also applies to other neighboring countries such as Iran, China, Central Asian nations, China, China, etc.

Recent meetings between officials from Pakistan, China, Russia and the Taliban have been held. Khan indicated that economic and security were key topics of discussion. The countries discussed the possibility of continuing to work together and meeting with the Taliban.

Afghanistan has fallen into an economic crisis since the Taliban took power in Afghanistan on August 15th. The nation has had its international support cut to a large extent. Central bank assets overseas worth millions of dollars have also been frozen. This has placed pressure on the financial system and made it impossible to conduct transactions with dollars from abroad. Khan also said that this was a problem for trade.

Khan stated that Pakistan is also working with international communities to reduce international banking restrictions. In fact, several senior executives of Pakistani financial institutions who have a presence at Afghanistan visited Kabul recently to assess the current situation and to determine if international limitations can be lifted.

The United States and Western nations will not provide funds for the Taliban until Islamistmilitant movements gives guarantees that they will protect human rights and women’s rights.

Pakistan shares a border area with Afghanistan, and is home to millions of Afghan refugees, but it worries about its neighbor’s economic woes. Imran Khan (the prime minister) and other senior officials have asked the international community to not isolate the Taliban government. They said that aid must be given to stop economic collapse and the influx of refugees.

Pakistan is accused of having deep ties to the Taliban. It was also accused of providing support for the Taliban during its 20-year-long battle against the U.S.-backed government at Kabul. Islamabad denied these charges.

Pakistan hasn’t yet officially recognized the Taliban-led administration. Khan, Pakistani ambassador to the United Nations, stated that Pakistan will recognize Pakistan later, as Pakistan is a part of the international family.

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