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Chinese and Taliban authorities forge closer ties as US leaves Afghanistan

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met on Wednesday with Taliban leaders in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin, a sign of closer ties between Beijing and the Islamic group.

During a meeting with Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who heads the political committee, Wang Yi described the group as an important military and political force in Afghanistan and said he hoped it would play an important role in the “peace process, reconciliation and reconstruction” of the country, reported the CNN.

After the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban quickly expanded their presence in the territory, now controlling large areas. All foreign forces must leave the country by August 31st.

Wednesday’s meeting, which was attended by the heads of the Taliban’s religious and publicity committees, is the Chinese government’s last step to strengthen its relationship with the Islamic group.

In recent years, Beijing has invested heavily in Central Asia and the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already discussed the possibility of extending the Economic Corridor China-Pakistan to Afghanistan. At the meeting, Wang emphasized that the fate of that country should be “in the hands of the Afghan people.”

Wang said the withdrawal of US and NATO troops marked the “failure of US policy in Afghanistan”, providing an opportunity for the country to stabilize and develop. China “respects the independence” and “the territorial integrity of Afghanistan and insists on non-interference in the internal affairs” of the country, he stressed.

In turn, the Taliban told the South China Morning Post, in early July, who considered China a “welcome friend”.

Wang also mentioned the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which he classified as a “international terrorist organization”, stressing that the Taliban should “completely sever all ties” with the group, in order to promote regional stability.

The Chinese government has regularly accused ETIM of carrying out terrorist attacks in Xinjiang, accusations it has used to justify its crackdown in the western region.

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