Asia

Afghanistan’s Taliban delegation in China for talks

A delegation of Afghanistan’s Taliban has traveled to China for talks on the militant group’s peace negotiations with the US, which hit a dead end earlier this month.

Suhail Shaheen, the Afghan group’s spokesman in Qatar, said on his official Twitter account on Sunday that the nine-member team had held talks with Deng Xijun, China’s special representative for Afghanistan, in Beijing.

The Taliban’s Qatar-based political bureau was engaged in a diplomatic process with the US aimed at ending Washington’s 18-years-long invasion of Afghanistan.

Nine rounds of such talks — excluding Kabul — had taken place in Doha, with the two sides appearing to have come close to a deal, under which the US would withdraw over 5,000 troops from Afghanistan within 20 weeks in exchange for security guarantees from the Taliban.

However, US President Donald Trump abruptly canceled the peace process and declared the talks “dead” on September 9, after the Afghan militant group carried out a bomb attack in Kabul, which killed 12 people, including an American soldier.

Commenting on the talks in Beijing, Shaheen wrote, “The Chinese special representative said the US-Taliban deal is a good framework for the peaceful solution of the Afghan issue and they support it.”

Citing Mullah Baradar, the Taliban delegation’s leader, Shaheen added that the Afghan group and Beijing had held dialog and reached a “comprehensive deal.”

“Now, if the US president cannot stay committed to his words and breaks his promise, then he is responsible for any kind of distraction and bloodshed in Afghanistan,” Baradar said, according to Shaheen.

China has yet to make an announcement about the meeting.

Beijing has already voiced its willingness to cooperate in peace talks and reconciliation in neighboring Afghanistan, which shares a short border with China’s far western Chinese region of Xinjiang, home to mostly Muslim Uighur people.

“We are willing to strengthen cooperation with all parties involved in Afghanistan and work together for reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told a weekly media briefing in Beijing on Saturday.

Following the collapse of the talks with the US, Taliban negotiators visited Russia and neighboring Iran to discuss the Afghan peace process.

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