President Ashraf Ghani said the restoration of peace in Afghanistan through direct dialogue with the Taliban would be a top priority of his administration and called on the international community for honest support while on his trip to China, his first tour abroad as president.
Ghani also made significant commitments to judicial reform and economic development while in China, commitments that he has been vocal about since taking office in early September. He has argued curtailing corruption and revitalizing the Afghan economy will contribute to peace building and reconciliation efforts.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Prime Minister, Li Keqiang, said that international cooperation would have a crucial role in helping to bring peace and tranquility in Afghanistan. Political experts have repeatedly said that China could help Kabul push Pakistan to cooperate and be more honest in its interlocutor role in peace talks with the Taliban.
On Friday, Beijing hosted the 4th foreign ministers meeting of the Heart of Asia Conference, also called the Istanbul Process. The meeting was officially inaugurated with remarks from President Ghani and the Chinese Prime Minister.
"Peace is our highest priority," Ghani told his fellow dignitaries. "We invite the political opposition, particularly the Taliban, to join an inter-Afghan dialogue and ask all our international partners to support an Afghan-led and Afghan owned peace process."
President Ghani also reaffirmed his commitments to implement reforms in Afghanistan's legal and judicial institutions. He was firm on the peace process being one between Afghans, but maintained that durable peace with militants would only be achievable with the support of the international community.
"We are determined to lead and own the peace process through an inter Afghan-dialogue, we ask our neighbors and partners to assist us in this critical process by honestly and clearly communicating whether they have the capacity to be of assistance," Ghani added.
In his speech, Chinese Prime Minister Li called on the international community to cooperate with Afghanistan in settling its ongoing security problems. He said that the international community must respect the sovereignty of Afghanistan and honor all commitments.
"Peace and security in Afghanistan means regional and global peace and security, and Afghanistan's economic growth is our common objective," Li said. "The international community, by considering the complete sovereignty of Afghanistan, must honestly cooperate with this country."