Taliban militants ‘in talks with Chinese officials’

An employee registers a resident at a voter registration center for the upcoming presidential election in Kabul. (AP)
Updated 17 June 2019
0

Taliban militants ‘in talks with Chinese officials’

  • Delegation visits Beijing days before seventh round of dialogue with US

ISLAMABAD: An Afghan Taliban delegation is visiting Beijing for talks with Chinese officials just days ahead of the group’s seventh round of talks with US officials in Qatar, a former Taliban spokesman told Arab News on Sunday.

China has played an increasingly active role in the Afghan peace process, alongside Russia and the US.

In April, the three countries pressed the Taliban to hold talks with Afghan politicians and civilians as an important step to end the 17-year conflict.

Abdul Hai Mutmayen, who was the Taliban’s chief spokesman in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, said the head of the group’s political office, Abdul Ghani Baradar, is leading the delegation in Beijing.

“It seems that Taliban leaders are making efforts to hold consultations and exchange their views with key stakeholders ahead of the next round. The visit is an indication that the seventh round is important,” Mutmayen added. 

China has offered to host intra-Afghan talks if all sides agree to such a role, but has ruled out being a mediator. 

BACKGROUND

• Taliban officials have said they could accept China as a guarantor if they reach a peace deal with the US.

• In 2015, China hosted a secret meeting between the Taliban and Afghan government officials, said former Taliban Minister Mullah Abdul Jalil.

Taliban officials have said they could accept China as a guarantor if they reach a peace deal with the US.

In 2015, China hosted a secret meeting between the Taliban and Afghan government officials, said former Taliban Minister Mullah Abdul Jalil.

Abrar Hussain, Pakistan’s former ambassador to Afghanistan, told Arab News on Sunday that China’s involvement in peace efforts is economically and politically motivated.

“China’s interest in Afghan peace ... will lead to the withdrawal of foreign troops and bring economic opportunities, so China has been hosting informal meetings for this purpose,” he said.

With the withdrawal of foreign troops top of the Taliban’s agenda going into the next round of talks with the US, the group’s political spokesman, Suhail Shaheen, told Arab News that the ball is in America’s court. 

“They (the US) will decide the date (of a troop withdrawal), and they should decide an appropriate timetable with our consent. We’ll talk about the internal aspect of the problem if the external aspect is settled,” he said.

Mohammed Amir Rana, director of the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies, told Arab News: “China wants peace in Afghanistan but it has apprehensions. If the US leaves Afghanistan in haste, stability in Afghanistan and the region will further deteriorate, and China will have to take responsibility to fix the issue.”


Afghan forces kill seven civilians in attack on militants

Updated 34 min 42 sec ago
0

Afghan forces kill seven civilians in attack on militants

  • The seven civilians, including women and children, were killed in Logar province, just south of Kabul, on Sunday night
  • Afghan forces, backed by US advisers, have in recent months stepped up their air strikes and raids to the highest levels since 2014

KABUL: Afghan government forces mistakenly killed seven civilians, including children, in an attack on militants south of the capital, a provincial official said on Monday, the latest victims of a war undiminished by peace talks.
Government forces, have been facing Taliban attacks across much of the country, and have responded with air strikes aimed at killing insurgent leaders, even as US and Afghan representatives have been negotiating with the militants in Qatar.
The seven civilians, including women and children, were killed in Logar province, just south of Kabul, on Sunday night said Hasib Stanekzai, a member of Logar’s provincial council. Six people were wounded, he said.
Provincial police confirmed the attack on militants by government forces but said they were investigating the casualties.
“According to our initial information a number of militants were killed or wounded, but local people gathered in the area, claiming that a house belonging to a Kuchi family had been bombed, causing civilian casualties,” said Shahpor Ahmadzai, a spokesman for Logar police.
Kuchi are nomadic herders, but some now live in permanent settlements.
Ahmadzai, who said police were investigating, also said foreign forces were involved in the attack on the militants. Officials with Afghanistan’s NATO force were not immediately available to confirm or deny their involvement in the operation.
Afghan forces, backed by US advisers, have in recent months stepped up their air strikes and raids to the highest levels since 2014.
The latest phase of Afghanistan’s war — which began when US-backed forces the overthrew the Taliban following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States — has intensified despite the most sustained peace talks of the war.
The United Nations has repeatedly expressed concern about civilian casualties, which reached their highest level last year since detailed accounting began nearly a decade ago.
The war claimed 3,804 civilian lives in 2018, that included 927 children, both figures all-time highs, representing an 11% increase in civilian deaths compared with 2017, UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said in February.