New Delhi: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s special representative for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, landed in Kabul Thursday, just hours apart from each other to hold talks with the Taliban government there and strengthen bilateral ties.
Wang made a ‘surprise stop’ in Kabul while exiting Pakistan where he was a ‘special guest’ at a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), diplomatic sources told ThePrint.
Wang is expected to meet External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar Friday, but hours before his arrival in New Delhi, the Chinese foreign minister triggered a war of words for his comments on Jammu and Kashmir in his speech at the OIC meet in Pakistan.
In Kabul, Wang met the Taliban’s interim Foreign Minister Amir Khan Mottaqi and other leaders. Wang’s visit assumes significance in terms of legitimising the Taliban government in Kabul. No country in the world has yet officially recognised the Taliban dispensation.
“The Chinese foreign minister arrived in Afghanistan on a special visit today to hold talks with his Afghan counterpart Mottaki on a number of important issues and hold meetings with other leaders of the Islamic Emirate,” said Taliban spokesperson Ahmadullah Wasiq.
د چین د بهرنیو چارو وزیر نن په یوه ځانګړي سفر افغانستان ته راغی او د افغانستان د بهرنیو چارو له وزیر محترم متقي صاحب سره یې پر ګڼو مهمو موضوعاتو خبرې وکړي او د اسلامي امارت له نورو مشرانو سره یې مجالس دوام لري. pic.twitter.com/FbzThgzNCM
— Ahmadullah wasiq (@WasiqAhmadullah) March 24, 2022
This is the first such high-level visit by a Chinese government official since the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul in August 2021. Wang had, however, met Taliban’s Acting Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Doha in October 2021 during his visit to Qatar. Prior to that Wang had hosted him in China in July.
The Taliban’s foreign ministry spokesperson Abdul Qahar Balkhi called Wang’s Thursday stop a “special visit”.
“The two sides met at the foreign ministry’s Story Palace to discuss political, economic and transit issues, the corridor, dried fruit exports, scholarships, and visas,” Balkhi said.
In Pakistan, Wang met Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa. They discussed “high-level strategic cooperation between the two countries”, said a Chinese foreign ministry statement.
“Bajwa said the Ukraine issue is very important, but the international community should not ignore the Afghan issue. Pakistan appreciates and supports China’s hosting of the Third Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on the Afghan Issue Among the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan and believes that the international community should pay more attention to and invest more in the people’s wellbeing and security issues of Afghanistan,” the statement added.
Russian special envoy meets Taliban leaders
It was a busy day in Kabul Thursday as Russia’s special envoy Kabulov was also present in the Afghan capital. According to spokesperson Balkhi, Kabulov was accompanied by representatives from the ministries of defence, interior, economy, industry, agriculture and energy.
“Mr. Kabulov called the policy of the Islamic Emirate balanced and in the interest of the region and the world, and expressed satisfaction with the achievements of the Hadid government,” Balkhi said.
Russian officials said the country was looking forward to working with the Taliban for development of various projects in Afghanistan, though Moscow is currently facing a range of economic sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine.
Kabulov Thursday also met Afghanistan Deputy PM Abdul Ghani Baradar.
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