Chinese foreign minister in Afghanistan to meet Taliban officials

Kabul, Mar 24 (EFE).- Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Thursday arrived in Afghanistan to meet high officials of the Taliban-led Afghan government, after a stop in neighboring Pakistan, in the first-ever visit of such a high ranking Chinese dignitary since the Islamists seized Kabul in August.

“The foreign minister of China has arrived in Kabul, where he will meet with his Afghan counterpart Amir Khan Muttaqi, the acting foreign minister of the Taliban government,” the deputy spokesperson of the foreign ministry told EFE.

Abdul Qahar Balkhi, the principal foreign ministry spokesperson, said in a statement that the two sides discussed “political, economic & transit issues,” including dry-fruit exports and visa issuance.

According to the statement, Wang said his visit was “a step towards strengthening comprehensive relations,” and opposed “the imposed political & economic sanctions on Afghanistan.”

Meanwhile Muttaqi said the Chinese foreign minister’s arrival sent a “positive message to the Afghans & the world.”

The unannounced visit by the Chinese top diplomat comes a day after he took part in the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Organization of Islamic States, held in Pakistan, as a special invitee.

After meeting Pakistani high officials, Wang had said that the two countries would intensify joint efforts to deal with regional and international issues, including Afghanistan.

The Taliban government, which has not succeeded in gaining recognition by the international community, has relied on China to deal with the severe economic and humanitarian crisis that has affected Afghanistan.

The situation has deteriorated since the group seized power, due to the subsequent freezing of overseas funds and a halt in the flow of international aid.

Wang and Muttaqi had met in Doha in October, where they agreed to strengthen ties, along with the announcement of economic aid for Kabul.

China and Afghanistan have for long shared common interests in issues related to public utilities and mining.

In the last two decades, Chinese firms had signed multiple contracts to establish economic and development projects in Afghanistan, although almost of none of them materialized due to the political instability in the war-torn country and lack of bilateral cooperation. EFE


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