Beijing says Taliban leaders have conveyed willingness to work with other parties, protect human rights in Afghanistan.
ANKARA (AA) – China on Wednesday said the Taliban have an “important role” in Afghanistan’s peace, reconciliation, and reconstruction process.
The remarks were made by Wang Yi, China’s state councilor and foreign minister, during a meeting with a nine-member Taliban delegation led by Mullah Baradar Akhund, head of the group’s political office in Qatar.
“State Councilor Wang pointed out that the Afghan Taliban is an important military and political force in Afghanistan and is expected to play an important role in the country’s peace, reconciliation, and reconstruction process,” Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, told a news conference in Beijing.
“We hope that the Afghan Taliban will put the interests of the country and nation first, hold high the banner of peace talks, set the goal of peace, build a positive image and pursue an inclusive policy.”
Earlier in the day, Taliban spokesperson Mohammad Naeem said on Twitter that the meeting “focused on political, economic and security issues related to the two countries, the current situation in Afghanistan and the peace process.”
On Beijing’s invitation, the Taliban delegation arrived in China on a two-day visit on Tuesday and met Wang in the northeastern Tianjin municipality.
The Taliban leaders also met China’s deputy foreign minister and the country’s special representative for Afghanistan.
‘US withdrawal marks policy failure’
Wang told the Taliban delegation that China “has always respected Afghanistan’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, adhered to non-interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs and pursued a friendly policy toward the entire Afghan people,” the Foreign Ministry spokesperson said.
“Afghanistan belongs to the Afghan people, and its future should be in the hands of its own people. The hasty withdrawal of the US and NATO troops from Afghanistan actually marks the failure of the US policy toward Afghanistan,” he added.
The Chinese foreign minister urged all factions and ethnic groups to “unite as one, truly implement the ‘Afghan-led and Afghan-owned’ principle, push for early substantive results in the peace and reconciliation process, and independently establish a broad and inclusive political structure that suits Afghanistan’s national realities.”
China also called on the Taliban to “make a clean break” with all terrorist organizations, including the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM).
“Wang stressed that the ETIM is an international terrorist organization designated by the UN Security Council that poses a direct threat to China’s national security and territorial integrity,” Zhao said.
“Combating it is a common responsibility for the international community.”
‘Won’t allow use of Afghan territory against others’
According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Taliban leader Baradar hailed Beijing as “a reliable friend of the Afghan people and commended China’s just and positive role in Afghanistan’s peace and reconciliation process.”
“The Afghan Taliban has the utmost sincerity to work towards and realize peace. It stands ready to work with other parties to establish a political framework in Afghanistan that is broadly-based, inclusive and accepted by the people and protect human rights, especially rights of women and children,” the Chinese spokesperson quoted Baradar as saying.
“The Afghan Taliban believe that Afghanistan should develop friendly relations with neighboring countries and the international community. It hopes that China will be more involved in Afghanistan’s peace and reconciliation process and play a bigger role in the future reconstruction and economic development.”
He said the Taliban vowed to “never allow any force to use the Afghan territory to engage in acts detrimental to China.”
A similar point was made by Taliban spokesperson Naeem in his statement on Twitter, saying that the group had “assured China that Afghan territory would not be used against any country.”
Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s government said in a statement that it “had been taken into confidence” by the Chinese government on the Taliban’s visit.
Asserting that Beijing invited the delegation to express its concern on the spiraling security situation in the country, the Afghan Foreign Ministry said Kabul “expects China to put international pressure on the insurgents to end the ongoing violence.”