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China pledges support for Taliban in Afghanistan, demands end to ETIM ties

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China Wednesday pledged support for the Taliban's role in Afghanistan's reconstruction, while demanding that it cuts ties with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement - blamed by Beijing for attacks in its Xinjiang region, according to South China Morning News.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi made the remarks during talks with a nine-member delegation led by the Taliban's chief negotiator and co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in the northern city of Tianjin.

It was the first time a senior Taliban leader had visited China since the Taliban's capture of several key districts in Badakhshan and Kandahar provinces. Taliban fighters have taken control of around half the country up to its border with the Chinese region of Xingjiang, and US air strikes continue to support Afghan security forces.

Wang said the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan represented a failure of US policies and called on the Taliban to push for a role in the peace process. "The Taliban in Afghanistan is a pivotal military and political force in the country, and will play an important role in the process of peace, reconciliation and reconstruction there," Wang said.

East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM)

Wang said China would support Afghanistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity, but he also demanded the Taliban cut off any connection with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). "ETIM is an international terrorist organization listed by the UN Security Council and poses a direct threat to China's national security and territorial integrity," Wang said.

"Fighting ETIM is the common responsibility of the international community and I hope the Afghanistan Taliban will cut ties with terror groups such as ETIM. The Afghanistan Taliban can contribute to an effective crackdown against those groups and play an active role in regional stability and development."

In 2002, the UN Security Council's 1267 Committee imposed sanctions against ETIM. In 2003, China declared it as a terrorist organization. The group has been responsible for hundreds of terrorist attacks since it was founded. It was also found as the black hand behind many terror attacks in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. For example, the bomb and knife attack at Urumqi railway station on April 30 in 2014 and attacks in Kashi on July 30, 31 in 2011, according to Global Times.

However, former US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, announced on October 20, 2020 the revocation of a previous decision that designated ETIM as a terrorist organization.

Mullah Baradar of the Taliban delegation said the Afghan Taliban will never allow any force to use the Afghan territory to endanger China.

Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem said the meetings focused on the political, economic and security issues facing the two nations, as well as the peace process.

He tweeted that the group had assured China that Afghan territory would not be used to threaten the security of other nations, and that China had promised not to interfere in Afghanistan's affairs but to help build peace and solve problems.

China previously hosted the Taliban in 2019, when a nine-member delegation travelled to Beijing and met Deng Xijun, then special representative for Afghanistan.

Taliban visit Moscow

Before the visit to China, a Taliban delegation visited Moscow on July 8, meeting Kremlin envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov who expressed concerns about the escalation and tensions in northern Afghanistan. Kabulov also urged the Taliban "to prevent them from spreading beyond the country's borders," according to AP.

The Global Times quoted analysts as saying that instead of visiting other regional countries, the Taliban chose to first visit Russia and China, which shows it has recognized the two countries' previous efforts in promoting the peace process in Afghanistan and eyed a bigger role for them in future reconstruction of the war-torn country.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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