Nine Taliban representatives met Foreign Minister Wang Yi in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin on a two-day visit during which the peace process and security issues were discussed, a Taliban spokesperson said. This is the first time that a top Taliban leader who is part of Doha talks travelled to China. It may not be a mere coincidence that Taliban delegation was hosted days after Pak Foreign Minister and ISI Chief visited China. Pakistan is China’s closest ally in South Asia and remains biggest backer of Taliban.
Wang said the Taliban is expected to “play an important role in the process of peaceful reconciliation and reconstruction in Afghanistan”, according to a readout of the meeting from the Chinese foreign ministry.
Wang also told the delegation that he hoped the Taliban would crack down on the East Turkestan Islamic Movement as it was a “direct threat to China’s national security,” according to the readout, referring to a group China says is active in the Xinjiang region in China’s far west.
The visit could facilitate insurgent group’s recognition at the international stage amid their surge within Afghanistan.
“Politics, economy and issues related to the security of both countries and the current situation of Afghanistan and the peace process were discussed in the meetings,” Taliban spokesperson Mohammed Naeem tweeted about the China visit.
Naeem added that the group, led by Taliban negotiator and deputy leader Mullah Baradar Akhund, was also meeting China’s special envoy for Afghanistan and that the trip took place after an invitation from Chinese authorities.
The Taliban has launched a flurry of offensives, taking districts and border crossings around the country while peace talks in Qatar’s capital have not made substantive progress.