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China's Foreign Minister To Meet With Taliban During Visit To Qatar

Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi pose for a photo during their meeting in Tianjin on July 28.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will meet with Taliban representatives during a visit to Qatar, in their latest high-level talks since the withdrawal of U.S.-led international forces in August.

The visit to Doha, where the Taliban has its political office, is scheduled for October 25-26 to discuss “issues of joint concern,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a daily briefing.

“Since August this year, the situation in Afghanistan has undergone fundamental changes and the Afghan people have a historic opportunity to independently decide the country’s destiny. Meanwhile, however, they still face many difficulties and challenges and are in urgent need of external support," Wang said.

"As Afghanistan's traditional friendly neighbor and partner, China has always advocated dialogue and contact to guide the positive development of the situation in Afghanistan," he added.

China has not recognized the new rulers in Kabul but has kept its embassy open as it seeks to expand its economic and political footprint in the war-torn country with which it shares a 76-kilometer border.

In July, Wang met with a delegation led by a top Taliban figure, Abdul Ghani Baradar, in China, shortly before the group seized power from Afghanistan's Western-backed government.

The two sides have continued contact, including China’s participation last week in Russian-hosted talks with the Taliban attended by officials from nine other countries.

Taliban officials have repeatedly said they intend to expand ties with China, which has promised humanitarian aid and economic cooperation.

Unlike the West, China is unlikely to make ties contingent on human rights issues, preferring instead hard economic, political, and security interests.

In particular, China is asking the Taliban to control the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, an ethnic Uyghur group Beijing considers a terrorist organization seeking independence in the western region of Xinjiang.

During the Taliban’s visit to China in July, the delegation pledged that the group would “not allow anyone to use the Afghan soil against China.”

Earlier this month, two sources in Tajikistan and Afghanistan told RFE/RL that the Taliban had “removed” ethnic Uyghur fighters from border regions with China to other parts of Afghanistan.

With reporting by AP and Reuters
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