US-China-EU: Track Two Dialogues on Afghanistan
by Said Sabir Ibrahimi
On July 30-31, CIC Associate Director Barnett Rubin joined European Union (EU), China, and US policy experts at a track two dialogue in Brussels to discuss international cooperation and support for the stabilization of Afghanistan.
The meeting discussed recent developments in the country, such as the Eid Ceasefire and scheduled parliamentary and provincial elections; reconciliation efforts and the international community's support for the process; the role of foreign troops vis-à-vis counter-terrorism and the broader conflict; and the role of the international community, in particular the EU and China, in contributing to economic connectivity around Afghanistan.
The goal of the dialogue was to discuss the challenges and opportunities in Afghanistan, and provide a set of policy recommendations. It was an effort to inform policy and decision makers on areas of converging interests; in particular, the US, China and EU's support of the Afghan government and people in the implementation of a peace process, and in support of the Afghan government economic diversification agenda.
The dialogue is not a parallel effort to the ongoing peace initiative, but a complementary expert forum for frank discussions among participating think tanks. This meeting was the latest in a series of track two meetings that NYU CIC has been conducting since 2012, in both bilateral, US-China, and multilateral, US-China+, formats.
In recent years, China has shown greater interest in supporting Afghanistan in its efforts for peace, partly in relation to security for Beijing’s cross-continental economic project, the Belt and Road Initiative. China has participated in the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG), which also included Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US. The QCG, a forum that sought to discuss a peace process framework, was paused as levels of violence in the country remained constant. In February 2018, the Afghan president's peace proposal to the Taliban, and the Eid Ceasefire which followed has increased momentum for a possible political solution. As the military stalemate persists, the US has also said that it will support, facilitate and participate in the peace process.