Amid US drawdown, China sees opportunity, meets Taliban delegation

Beijing, July 28 (FN Agency) On a day the deteriorating security situation topped the agenda of talks between India and the US. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met a Taliban delegation, expecting the group to play an “important role” in the peace, reconciliation and reconstruction process of Afghanistan. “The Afghan Taliban, as a critical military and political force in the country, is expected to play an important role in the peace, reconciliation and reconstruction process of Afghanistan,” Chinese state media quoted Wang as saying. Wang made the remark during the meeting with Taliban’s political chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in north China’s Tianjin Municipality. Wang on Wednesday urged the Afghan Taliban to make a clean break with all terrorist organizations, including the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and resolutely fight against them. The United Nations Security Council has designated ETIM as an international terrorist organization.

The organization poses direct threats to China’s national security and territorial integrity, Wang said. Therefore, it’s a joint responsibility of the international community to fight against the ETIM, he added. Baradar said the Taliban will never allow any force to use Afghanistan’s territory to harm China’s interests. The Taliban delegation’s visit followed days after China and Pakistan announced plans to launch ‘joint actions’ in Afghanistan to drive out terrorist forces during the talks between Wang and Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Chengdu. China is said to be seeking Taliban help in exploiting the country’s vast mineral wealth. It also wants to link Kabul with the Belt and Road’s flagship project, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Wang, according to Xinhua, said the withdrawal of US-NATO forces from Afghanistan “marks the failure of United States’ Afghanistan policy, and Afghan people now face an important opportunity to stabilize and develop their own country.”

He urged all factions and ethnic groups in Afghanistan to stay united, truly implement the “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned” principle, promote the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan to achieve substantive results as soon as possible, and independently establish an inclusive political structure in line with Afghanistan’s own national conditions He called on the Afghan Taliban to put their national interests first and foremost, hold high the banner of peace talks, establish the goal of peace, create a positive image and adopt an inclusive policy. Baradar expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to visit China. “China has always been a trustworthy friend of the Afghan people,” he said, expressing appreciation for China’s fair and positive role in the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. “The Afghan Taliban, with sincerity for achieving peace, is willing to work with all parties to establish an inclusive political structure in Afghanistan that is accepted by all Afghan people and protects human rights as well as the rights and interests of women and children,’ Baradar said.

Baradar said that the Afghan Taliban would absolutely not allow any forces to do anything harmful to China in Afghanistan’s territory. Baradar said that the Afghan Taliban held that Afghanistan should develop friendly relations with neighboring countries and the international community. The Afghan Taliban hoped that China would be more involved in Afghanistan’s peace and reconstruction process, and play a bigger role in the country’s future reconstruction and economic development, Baradar said, adding that the Afghan Taliban would make its own efforts in creating a favorable investment environment.