Ready to deepen ‘friendly, cooperative’ relations with Taliban: China

A screengrab of Al Jazeera tv footage

As Taliban took control of Afghanistan, China said that its government is ready to deepen “friendly and cooperative” relations with Afghanistan, news agency AFP reported quoting a Chinese government spokeswoman as saying.

The report said Beijing has sought to maintain unofficial ties with the Taliban throughout the US’ withdrawal from Afghanistan. China shares a rugged 76-kilometre (47-mile) border with Afghanistan.

Beijing has long feared Afghanistan could become a staging point for Muslim minority Uyghur separatists in Xinjiang, the report said.

However, the report said a top-level Taliban delegation met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Tianjin last month, promising that Afghanistan would not be used as a base for militants.

In exchange, China offered economic support and investment for Afghanistan’s reconstruction.

On Monday, China said it “welcomed” the chance to deepen ties with Afghanistan, a country that has for generations been coveted for its geo-strategic importance by bigger powers, AFP reported.

“The Taliban have repeatedly expressed their hope to develop good relations with China, and that they look forward to China’s participation in the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters.

“We welcome this. China respects the right of the Afghan people to independently determine their own destiny and is willing to continue to develop… friendly and cooperative relations with Afghanistan.”

Earlier, the Taliban said “war in Afghanistan is over” after it took control of the presidential palace in Kabul as US-led forces departed and Western nations scrambled to evacuate their citizens, news agency Reuters reported.

On Sunday, the country’s President Ashraf Ghani fled the country as Taliban entered the capital hundreds of Afghans desperately left flooded Kabul airport.

“Today is a great day for the Afghan people and the mujahideen. They have witnessed the fruits of their efforts and their sacrifices for 20 years,” Mohammad Naeem, the spokesman for the Taliban’s political office, told Al Jazeera TV.

“Thanks to God, the war is over in the country.”

The report said that it took Taliban just over a week to seize control of the country after a lightning sweep, trained for years and equipped by the United States and others at a cost of billions of dollars, melted away.


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