Chinese officials and Taliban meet as US exits Afghanistan
China’s foreign minister met a Taliban delegation, on Wednesday, signalling warming ties as the US-led foreign forces are withdrawing from Afghanistan.
Wang Yi told the nine visiting Taliban representatives, including the group’s co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar, that China expected it to “perform an important role in the process of peaceful settlement and reconstruction in Afghanistan” – as per a readout of the meeting from the foreign ministry.
He said Beijing hoped the Taliban would crackdown on the East Turkestan Islamic Movement as it posed a “direct threat to China’s national security”.
China says the group is active in the Xinjiang region and fears that neighbouring Afghanistan could be used as a breeding ground for separatists.
Wang Yi described the Taliban as an influential military and political force in Afghanistan.
Following the departure of American troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban have rapidly expanded its presence and have gained control of large swathes of the country.
The pace at which Afghan security forces have lost control to the Taliban has shocked almost everyone keeping an eye on the scenario.
Wednesday’s meeting is seen as the latest move by the Chinese government to build its relationship with the Islamist group.
Wang termed Afghanistan as China’s largest neighbour, and highlighted that the fate of the country should be “in the safe hands of the Afghan people.”
Reacting to the development, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said China’s possible involvement in Afghanistan can prove to be “a positive thing”.
Blinken said this was if China was striving for a “peaceful resolution of the conflict”.
“No one has an apparent interest in a military takeover of the country by the Taliban and the restoration of an Islamic emirate,” said Blinken, who was inquired about the talks while on a visit to India.
He advised the Taliban to come to the “negotiating table peacefully”.