–Afghan govt confirms talks; Taliban claim govt officials participating as ‘private individuals’
BEIJING: The delegations representing the Afghanistan government and Taliban will arrive in Beijing in the coming week to take part in a dialogue hosted by the Chinese government to facilitate the peace process.
This will be a maiden direct contact between the militant outfit and the Afghan government, led by Mullah Baradar and a minister, respectively.
A high-ranking official of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Pakistan Today that Beijing had invited both delegations from Afghanistan to break the ice between the two factions.
The official said the intra-Afghan dialogue is aimed at taking the Afghan peace process forward and the dialogue process has full support from Pakistan and other stakeholders.
The official said that the reconciliation process between the two sides would largely help break the impasse in the peace dialogue between the Taliban and the United States (US).
It would be the first dialogue between the two sides as the Afghan Taliban have been refusing to sit down with the Afghan government for peace talks, terming the regime in Kabul as ‘puppets’ of the US.
“The intra-Afghan dialogue is a part of efforts by Pakistan and China to help pave the way for bringing peace and normalcy in war-torn Afghanistan. Since China is a key stakeholder in regional peace efforts being neighbor to Afghanistan, we have been trying to encourage peace efforts and last month a Taliban delegation visited Beijing for talks with government officials,” the official said.
The source said that Pakistan was fully helping the peace talks between the two sides as it wanted to see stability in Afghanistan,” the official added.
Last month, US President Donald Trump halted the talks after the militants carried out a bomb attack in Kabul that killed 12 people, including a US soldier.
Afghan Taliban has already indicated at the meeting scheduled to resume next week.
“China has invited a delegation … to participate in the intra-Afghan dialogue,” Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman, said in a post on Twitter late on Tuesday.
The Taliban have refused to talk to the government, denouncing it a US puppet, but government officials have taken part in the intra-Afghan dialogue as private citizens. Shaheen said the talks in China would be held on that basis.
“All participants will be attending the meeting in their personal capacity and they will share their personal opinions for solving the Afghan issue,” Shaheen said, adding that the talks in China would be held on the basis that Afghan government officials would be attending the talks as ‘private citizens’.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying also has hinted at the dialogue, saying China supported the Afghan peace process and it was willing to provide what help it could.
Avoiding to comment directly on the meeting, Hua said if the Chinese government had anything to announce it would do so in a “timely manner”.
“We welcome all efforts that help the Afghan peace process,” said Najia Anwari, a spokesperson for the Ministry of State for Peace Affairs.