Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will hold talks with a delegation of the interim Afghan Taliban government during his visit to Qatar this week, in the first high-level engagement since the militant group took power in Kabul two months ago.
Wang, who will be in Doha on Monday and Tuesday, will raise “the situation in Afghanistan and issues of mutual concern” during the meeting, a foreign ministry spokesman said.
This will be the first high-level engagement between China and the Taliban since the militant outfit unseated the US-backed government in August and declared the establishment of a new regime in Afghanistan following the US troop withdrawal.
“[The] Afghan people, facing many difficulties and challenges, are in dire need of external support,” the ministry spokesman said.
“As a long-time friendly neighbour and partner of Afghanistan, China has advocated the use of dialogue and engagement in guiding the situation in Afghanistan towards positive development, and to help the Afghan people overcome difficulties.”
China was among the first countries to establish contact with the Taliban after its forces swept through Afghanistan. In July, two weeks before the takeover of Kabul, Wang was in Tianjin to meet a delegation led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a top Taliban leader and now the deputy prime minister in the new Afghan government.
China announced in September that it would donate 200 million yuan (US$31 million) worth of aid, including food and coronavirus vaccines, to Afghanistan.
Beijing has also sought assurances from the Taliban that it would cut ties with all terrorist groups, in particular with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a separatist group Beijing has blamed for attacks in Xinjiang.
Separately, senior Taliban officials and US representatives held their first direct talks in Doha earlier this month. Officials from both sides have said sticking points remain, including reining in extremist groups and the evacuation of foreign citizens and Afghans from the country.
After Qatar, Wang will visit Greece, Serbia, Albania and Italy, in a trip lasting from Wednesday to Friday, the foreign ministry said.
The Russian foreign ministry said last week that Russian, Chinese and Pakistani special envoys to Afghanistan had held a meeting in Moscow, exchanging views on common security threats and expressing joint interest in providing urgent humanitarian and economic assistance to Afghanistan.
In a separate statement, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the American side could not take part in the meeting of the “Troika plus” group – comprising the US, Russia, China and Pakistan – because the US envoy was appointed just before the event.
In a phone call with his Iranian counterpart last week, Wang said China would support Tehran in its bid to host the second meeting of foreign ministers from Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries, to step up coordination and communication.
The first meeting, hosted by Pakistan, took place in September. Apart from China, Iran and the host country, the foreign ministers of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan also took part.