China offers to host Afghan-Taliban peace talks

Beijing: China has offered to host peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in the wake of US troops starting their withdrawal from Afghanistan after a nearly two-decades-long stay.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who in the last two days held telephone talks with his Pakistani and Afghan counterparts, has said that China will back the Afghan government headed by Ashraf Ghani in playing a leading role, news reports said.

This is seen as significant given that China’s close ally Pakistan is seen as the main backer of the Taliban which has mounted attacks on Afghan government troops in a bid to secure itself a strong hand in any negotiations.

The offer to facilitate peace talks between the Kabul government and the Taliban was made during Wang’s phone talks with his Afghan counterpart Mohammad Haneef Atmar, according to Afghan news outlets.

China is concerned that the US pullout could lead to the regrouping of Uyghur Muslim militants in Afghanistan. Uyghurs live in Xinjiang province that shares borders with China.

In a comment that may not go down well with the Taliban, Wang expressed his hope that Afghanistan’s future leadership will pursue a moderate Muslim policy, promote a foreign policy of peace, maintain friendship with neighboring countries, and firmly combat all forms of terrorism, Xinhua said.

Wang also said that the eight-member Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), of which India and Pakistan are members, should pay more attention to the situation with Afghanistan’s neighbors strengthening communication, speaking in one voice and taking coordinated action.

Image courtesy of (Wikimedia)

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