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Speech by Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan of China at High-level Meeting of the Group of "6+2" on Afghanistan

Mr. Chairman,

At present, various sides are watching the developments in Afghanistan with intense interest, particularly the arrangements for a future Afghan government.  It is highly pertinent for the Foreign Ministers of the 6+2 Group to meet and discuss the political settlement of the Afghan issue.  Indeed, the meeting has already generated much attention.

Given the important geographical location of Afghanistan, the Afghan people and the country's neighbours all hope that it would enjoy a stable environment.  Regrettably, due to protracted strife among its warring factions, coupled with continued involvement of external forces, turmoil has reigned in Afghanistan for more than two decades, bringing untold sufferings to its people.

Mr. Chairman,

Over the years, the international community has made tremendous effort in helping put together a political solution to the Afghan issue.  It was not very successful due to various reasons.  To expedite a political settlement of the issue, under the current circumstances, would be of vital importance to peace and security in the region and the world at large.  A proper and lasting solution would help restore domestic stability and economic development in Afghanistan, bring about peace and stability in the region, and contribute to the ongoing international fight against terrorism, thus serving the fundamental interests of all countries.  In recent years, the terrorist groups, taking advantage of the chaotic situation in Afghanistan, have trained and armed all sorts of terrorists, and directed and masterminded all kinds of terrorist operations, killing and maiming the innocent and threatening the security of many countries.  A proper solution to the Afghan issue will go a long way towards strengthening the international struggle against terrorism.

Mr. Chairman,

The countries we represent here are either neighbours to Afghanistan, or countries that have important influence on it.  It is in our interests to promote a political settlement of the Afghan issue.  As a country that has been watching the situation in Afghanistan closely, China maintains that there should be a political solution to the Afghan issue through negotiations and dialogues.  China supports the UN efforts in this respect and appreciates the useful role played by Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his Special Representative Brahimi and Personal Representative Vendrell.  As for ways to achieve a settlement under the current situation, China believes that a number of principles need to be followed.

First, the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan should be ensured.  Respect for sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of states is a basic principle enshrined in the United Nations Charter and international law.  Though Afghanistan is in a state of war and turmoil, it is a sovereign country nonetheless.  Any arrangement or plan that may compromise Afghanistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity can only complicate the issue instead of solving it.

Second, the Afghan people must be allowed to independently decide on a solution.  Having all along lived in a unified country, the Afghan people have gone through thick and thin in history, created their unique culture and made important contribution to Asian and world civilizations.  Despite difficulties in their face, the Afghan people have the capacity to determine their future.  If past is any guide, any arrangement imposed on the Afghan people could not enjoy their trust and would therefore end in failure.  The Afghan people should have the final say in how their political future is to be arranged.

Third, the future government of Afghanistan should be broadly based, embody the interests of all ethnic groups and live in harmony with all countries, particularly its neighbours.  Afghanistan is a country of many ethnic groups with diverging customs and interests.  A fair and lasting solution is possible only when the concerns and interests of all its ethnic groups are adequately taken care of.  Only by so doing can harmony and unity be maintained in Afghanistan.

Fourth, the solution must be conducive to peace and stability in the region.  Whether or not there is stability in Afghanistan bears on the vital interests of its neighours and also has an impact on regional peace and security.  Any arrangement or plan should be geared to preserving the long-term peace and stability in the region and must leave no hidden dangers to it.

Fifth, the United Nations should play a constructive role more actively.  The United Nations and its Security Council have long played a crucial role on the Afghan issue and enjoyed a good reputation in this regard.  The Afghan issue is a very complicated one.  A more active role by the UN in laying out the future arrangements of Afghanistan will help build consensus among most countries and among Afghan factions as well.

Mr. Chairman,

Various parties have put forward some ideas and proposals on Afghanistan's future arrangements, which deserve our careful consideration.  The Chinese side is of the view that the Group of "6+2" is an important and effective mechanism for us to discuss and facilitate a political settlement of the Afghan issue.  While making full use of the mechanism, we should step up communication, increase understanding and seek consensus among us.

China will go on supporting the efforts made by the UN Secretary-General and his special representative on the Afghan issue.  Any plan that can help restore peace, stability and neutrality of Afghanistan and is in the fundamental interests of all ethnic groups in the country will be carefully considered by China.

As things stand now, the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is highly disturbing.  The cold winter is about to set in and Afghan refugees are fleeing the country in large numbers.  Getting food and shelter is extremely difficult.  China has offered emergency humanitarian aid to Afghan refugees.  We call on the international community to further increase assistance to the Afghan refugees so as to ensure their survival.

Mr. Chairman,

Solving the Afghan issue will be a long journey that could not be accomplished with one step.  We must have firm political resolve, strong perseverance, and a pragmatic and flexible approach.  China stands ready to continue working with all the other parties and contribute its due share to the political solution of the Afghan issue.
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