Deng Xijun, China’s Special Representative for Afghanistan has said to the Afghan government that negotiations with the Taliban is the only way forward. This was said during a meeting on Sunday with President Ashraf Ghani.
Read more: Taliban ‘too strong’ to enter peace talks with Kabul
The contents of the meeting held between the Chinese envoy and President Ashraf Ghani were released by the President’s office. The Chinese envoy also said that during their talks with the Taliban they had encouraged them to do the same. The Chinese government has had contacts with the Taliban since they were in government in the 1990’s and have never shied away from explaining that this was necessary due to their investments in Afghanistan, Mes Aynak copper mine being one of these investments.
The envoy said, “China has always conveyed to the Taliban during meetings that it recognises the Afghan government and the president and that talks are the only option for them.” The envoy went on to encourage the government to sit down for talks with the Taliban, the way they had with Gulbuddin Hekmatyer, leader of the Hisb-e-Islami.
The Chinese government also reiterated that it was important to start a dialogue with the Taliban to ensure that ISIS does not gain a greater foothold in the region.
The Chinese government has had contacts with the Taliban since they were in government in the 1990’s and have never shied away from explaining that this was necessary due to their investments in Afghanistan
The meeting between Deng Xijun and Ashraf Ghani, was held after the Afghan’s criticized the December 27, 2016 trilateral dialogue that was held in Moscow between Russia, China and Pakistan, to which Afghanistan was not invited. The three countries had met to discuss ISIS and to discuss the ‘deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan’. They had at the time called for ‘reintegration of the armed opposition into peaceful life’.
The U.N.’s special envoy to Afghanistan Tadamichi Yamamoto reported on Monday that civilian casualties in Afghanistan in 2016 over 11,500 civilians killed or wounded out of one third of them were children. He also reported a tenfold increase in attacks by the Islamic State group, particularly targeting Shia Muslims in Afghanistan, resulting in around 900 civilian casualties (209 deaths and 690 injured).
“China has always conveyed to the Taliban during meetings that it recognises the Afghan government and the president and that talks are the only option for them.”
Last week, Afghanistan ambassador to Pakistan, Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal, said in an interview with China’s state news agency, Xinhua, that the Afghan government is in contact with the Taliban’s political office in Qatar and with the group’s influential commanders in a bid to start talks without preconditions.