Afghan Taliban secret meeting with Chinese government officials unveiled


ISLAMABAD: The Afghan Taliban’s senior political negotiators recently visited China on the invitation of the Chinese government, which has been making efforts to encourage the insurgent group to join the peace process, two Taliban officials have said.

The Taliban Qatar office chief Sher Abbas Stanikazai led a five-member delegation for talks with the Chinese officials. The delegation comprised Maulvi Shahabuddin Dilawar, Jan Muhammad Madani, Salam Hanafi and Dr Saleh.

People who are aware of the activities of the Taliban Qatar office also confirmed the visit.

“The visit was part of the relations of the political office with European countries such as Norway, Germany, France, Britain as well as neighbouring and regional countries,” a Taliban source said when asked about the purpose of the visit. 

“But these relations are focused on bringing about peace in Afghanistan and resolving the issue through negotiations,” said the source who did not want to be mentioned by name.

Another Taliban leader said, “Being a major world power, China is a main stakeholder and wants to play its vital role for peace and stability in Afghanistan. That is why it invited the Taliban.”

Days after the Taliban trip that was made last month, Chinese special envoy for Afghanistan, Deng Xijun, visited Kabul and met senior Afghan leaders including President Ashraf Ghani. The Chinese envoy told the Afghan president that his country has “encouraged the Taliban during our contacts with them to join the peace process,” Ghani’s office said after the meeting last month.

“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,” Xijun said, according to a statement.