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China, Russia and Pak envoys meet Taliban officials on govt formation

By K J M Varma
September 22, 2021 19:59 IST
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Special envoys of China, Russia and Pakistan have met the top officials of the Taliban's interim government as well as Afghan leaders Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah in Kabul and discussed the formation of an inclusive government, combating terrorism and humanitarian situation, a top Chinese official said on Wednesday.

IMAGE: WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Regional Director for Eastern Mediterranean Ahmed al-Mandhari, special representative of the Secretary General of the UN for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons and Taliban's Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund attend a meeting in Kabul, in this image uploaded to social media, September 20, 2021. Photograph: Reuters

The three special envoys visited Kabul from September 21 to 22 and held talks with acting Prime Minister Mohammad Hasan Akhund, Foreign Minister Amir Khan Mutaqi, finance minister and other high-level officials of the interim government, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a media briefing in Beijing.

 

Significantly, they also met with former President Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, president of the council for national reconciliation under the previous government.

This is perhaps the first time that the foreign diplomats met Karzai and Abdullah who stayed put in Kabul after the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan last month ahead of the withdrawal of the US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops.

Their meeting also coincides with the Taliban's letter to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres nominating its spokesman Suhail Shaheen as Afghanistan's new ambassador to the United Nations.

The Afghan militant group also asked Guterres to allow it to participate and speak in the 76th session of the UN General Assembly currently underway in New York.

Besides coordinating closely with Russia on Afghanistan, Pakistan and China, who are playing a lead role after the Taliban seized Kabul, are trying to establish a new grouping of countries sharing borders with Afghanistan.

The new grouping includes China, Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, all of them Afghanistan's neighbours. The foreign ministers of the group held a virtual meeting on September 7.

Highlighting its significance, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan told the BBC on Tuesday that the new group will jointly decide about extending recognition to the Taliban's interim government.

Elaborating on China, Russia, Pakistan Special envoys talks with the Taliban officials in Kabul, Zhao said they discussed the situation especially regarding inclusiveness, human rights, economic and humanitarian matters and the friendly relations between Afghanistan.

They also discussed ties with other countries as well as the reunification and territorial integrity of the country, he said.

"They had an in-depth and constructive discussion and also expressed support to combating terrorism and drug crimes,” he said.

Their offer to extend support comes amid increasing attacks reportedly by ISIS-K on the Taliban officials in Jalalabad in the past few days resulting in a number of casualties.

"The Taliban said they highly valued the relations with the three countries and they play a responsible role in consolidating the stability in Afghanistan. The three countries called on more humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan from the international community," Zhao stated.

They stressed that the US and allies shoulder the main responsibility for the economic and social reconstruction in Afghanistan and provide much needed economic livelihood and humanitarian assistance, Zhao said.

The three countries have agreed to maintain constructive contact with the Taliban to promote peace, prosperity, regional stability and development, he said.

In their talks with Karzai and Abdullah, they discussed issues related to peace and stability in Afghanistan, he said.

"China said we will not interfere in the internal affairs of Afghanistan and has been playing a constructive role for the political settlement of the Afghan issue. The Afghan side should make a political arrangement that is open, inclusive and exercises prudent policy,” Zhao added.

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K J M Varma in Beijing
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