ISLAMABAD - Afghanistan is set to host a three-way meeting Saturday with neighbors China and Pakistan to discuss peace as well as economic and counterterrorism cooperation.
Foreign ministers of the three countries will lead their respective delegations at the second round of the trilateral dialogue Beijing initiated last year to help ease Kabul's political tensions with Islamabad.
Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Sibghatullah Ahmadi said, "An MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) is set to be signed." He did not elaborate.
Pakistani officials say that a trilateral cooperation framework on counterterrorism is expected to be signed at the meeting.
China, a close ally of Pakistan, has lately deepened its economic and political ties with Afghanistan. Beijing is actively using its influence to bring the two uneasy South Asian neighbors closer.
Chinese officials say regional stability and security will discourage anti-China militants from causing trouble in the western Xinjiang region, which borders Afghanistan and Pakistan.
China has invested billions of dollars in infrastructure projects in Pakistan over the past five years as part of President Xi Jinping's global Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Chinese and Pakistani officials say they are considering expanding the bilateral China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC, to Afghanistan, through road and rail links to promote connectivity and economic development in the war-ravaged country.
Beijing's ambassador to Islamabad, Yao Jing, told a seminar this week in Islamabad that BRI is aimed at boosting economic cooperation among regional countries.
"China's message to the region is that our resources should be used for our own developments and prosperity. We should focus on curbing poverty and disease, which are our basic enemies," said the Chinese envoy.
Pakistan says the expansion of CPEC to Afghanistan will give it better access to Central Asian markets for Pakistani exports.
Political tensions, coupled with allegations that security agencies in both countries support militant groups that bring deadly attacks against one another, continue to strain relations between Kabul and Islamabad.