Taliban militants ‘in talks with Chinese officials’

An employee registers a resident at a voter registration center for the upcoming presidential election in Kabul. (AP)
Updated 17 June 2019
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Taliban militants ‘in talks with Chinese officials’

  • Delegation visits Beijing days before seventh round of dialogue with US

ISLAMABAD: An Afghan Taliban delegation is visiting Beijing for talks with Chinese officials just days ahead of the group’s seventh round of talks with US officials in Qatar, a former Taliban spokesman told Arab News on Sunday.

China has played an increasingly active role in the Afghan peace process, alongside Russia and the US.

In April, the three countries pressed the Taliban to hold talks with Afghan politicians and civilians as an important step to end the 17-year conflict.

Abdul Hai Mutmayen, who was the Taliban’s chief spokesman in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, said the head of the group’s political office, Abdul Ghani Baradar, is leading the delegation in Beijing.

“It seems that Taliban leaders are making efforts to hold consultations and exchange their views with key stakeholders ahead of the next round. The visit is an indication that the seventh round is important,” Mutmayen added. 

China has offered to host intra-Afghan talks if all sides agree to such a role, but has ruled out being a mediator. 

BACKGROUND

• Taliban officials have said they could accept China as a guarantor if they reach a peace deal with the US.

• In 2015, China hosted a secret meeting between the Taliban and Afghan government officials, said former Taliban Minister Mullah Abdul Jalil.

Taliban officials have said they could accept China as a guarantor if they reach a peace deal with the US.

In 2015, China hosted a secret meeting between the Taliban and Afghan government officials, said former Taliban Minister Mullah Abdul Jalil.

Abrar Hussain, Pakistan’s former ambassador to Afghanistan, told Arab News on Sunday that China’s involvement in peace efforts is economically and politically motivated.

“China’s interest in Afghan peace ... will lead to the withdrawal of foreign troops and bring economic opportunities, so China has been hosting informal meetings for this purpose,” he said.

With the withdrawal of foreign troops top of the Taliban’s agenda going into the next round of talks with the US, the group’s political spokesman, Suhail Shaheen, told Arab News that the ball is in America’s court. 

“They (the US) will decide the date (of a troop withdrawal), and they should decide an appropriate timetable with our consent. We’ll talk about the internal aspect of the problem if the external aspect is settled,” he said.

Mohammed Amir Rana, director of the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies, told Arab News: “China wants peace in Afghanistan but it has apprehensions. If the US leaves Afghanistan in haste, stability in Afghanistan and the region will further deteriorate, and China will have to take responsibility to fix the issue.”


China says it won’t rule out using force to reunify Taiwan

Updated 3 min 25 sec ago
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China says it won’t rule out using force to reunify Taiwan

BEIJING: China says it will not “renounce the use of force” in efforts to reunify Taiwan with the mainland and vows to take all necessary military measures to defeat “separatists.”
In a national defense white paper released Wednesday, China listed among its top priorities its resolve to contain “Taiwan independence” and combat what it considers separatist forces in Tibet and the far west region of Xinjiang.
Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said the threat of Taiwan separatism is growing and warned that those who are seeking Taiwan independence will meet a dead end.
The white paper also pointed to US, Japanese and Australian moves to beef up their military presence and alliances in the Asia-Pacific as bringing uncertainties to the region.
The US deployment of a missile defense system in South Korea has severely undermined the regional strategic balance, the report said. It further noted Japan’s reinterpretation of its post-World War II constitution to allow its military to operate farther from its shores.
China’s military expansion in recent years has prompted concerns among other Pacific countries in a region long dominated by the US Navy.