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RFE/RL Gandhara

Chinese FM Meets With Taliban Leaders On First Visit To Kabul Since Militant Group Seized Power

By RFE/RL's Radio Azadi March 24, 2022

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has met with members of the Taliban-led government in Kabul after arriving on March 24 ahead of a meeting of Afghanistan's neighbors next week that will be hosted by Beijing.

China has not recognized the Afghan government that formed after the Taliban took power in August last year following a blitz offensive across Afghanistan amid the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces.

But Beijing kept its embassy open during the hectic evacuation of foreign forces and diplomats from Kabul last year.

China hopes Afghanistan will fulfill its commitment of not allowing any external forces to use its territory as a tool to oppose neighbors or harm the security of other nations, Wang Yi said in a statement published by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

The statement also said that China welcomes Afghanistan's participation in the Belt and Road Initiative, a global plan to insert China further into infrastructure and investment projects around the world and is willing to push for extending the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan.

Wang made the comments in a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Ghani Baradar, the statement said.

Wang met earlier with Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi.

Wang arrived in Kabul from Islamabad where he attended a two-day meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. From Afghanistan he traveled on to Inida, making the highest-level visit by a Chinese official to the country since border clashes soured relations two years ago, local media said.

Afghanistan has been grappling with financial and humanitarian crises. The United Nations and other aid agencies say more than half of the country's 38 million people are facing hunger.

China shares only a 76-kilometer border with Afghanistan, but maintaining stability after decades of war in the neighboring country is Beijing's main consideration.

China is also seeking to secure its borders and strategic infrastructure investments in Pakistan, home to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

The Taliban has also repeatedly expressed hopes of developing good relations with China, which it sees as a crucial source of investment and economic support.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP

Source: https://gandhara.rferl.org/a/chinese-fm- visits-taliban-afghanistan/31768166.html

Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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