China and Pakistan agree to extend the Belt and Road Initiative to Afghanistan

China and Pakistan have agreed to extend the Belt and Road Initiative to Afghanistan, with a pledge to work on country’s reconstruction process, Bloomberg reports.

Chinese Foreign Minister, Qin Gang, travelled to Islamabad on Friday where he met Pakistani government officials and the Taliban Foreign Minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, who had been given an exemption by the UN Security Council to travel abroad.

According to Bloomberg, Qin Gang and his Pakistani counterpart, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, agreed to extend the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan.

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Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Saturday that the China-Pakistan-Afghanistan trirateral meeting had held “discussions on political engagement, counter terrorism, trade & connectivity.”

Amir Khan Muttaqi’s deputy spokesperson, Hafiz Zia Ahmad, said on that the Taliban’s top diplomat had discussed political, economic and transit issues.

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China has kept a growing diplomatic and economic relationship with the Taliban since the group’s takeover of Afghanistan, with Chinese companies expressing interests in investing in the country.

In mid April, a Chinese company offered $10 billion to the Taliban for access to Afghanistan’s large lithium deposits, which according to some estimates is worth $1 trillion. And in January, the group and another Chinese company signed a $540 million deal to extract oil from northern Afghanistan’s Amu Darya basin.