China, Taliban hold talks about Afghanistan's inclusion in Belt & Road
The war-torn nation is seeking to recover from twenty years of destruction by forging alliances with global powers, including China and Russia who both rival the West's hegemony.
The Financial Times reported on Monday that China and the Taliban have held talks over the possible inclusion of Afghanistan into the Belt & Road Initiative.
On Saturday, China's Foreign Minister Qin Gang, Pakistan's Minister of Foreign Affairs Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, and Afghanistan’s acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi met in Pakistan as part of the China-Pakistan-Afghanistan trilateral foreign ministers’ dialogue.
As per a statement issued by China’s foreign ministry, all three parties engaged in discussions on security and trade while Afghanistan expressed the "hopes to strengthen co-operation with China in . . . infrastructure development within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative."
Video: Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman Zia Ahmad Takal posted a video from the meeting of acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang.— TOLOnews (@TOLOnews) May 6, 2023
Bhutto said on Twitter that they “held productive… pic.twitter.com/gPtgdFcWs4
The Taliban came to power in Afghanistan in August of 2021 after an incredibly chaotic withdrawal of US troops and the end of the US occupation of the country.
In the 20 years during which Afghanistan was invaded by the NATO-led coalition, the Southern-Central Asian country has suffered tremendous destruction at unprecedented levels, leaving the country crippled by an excruciating economic crisis and sporadic terror attacks spearheaded by IS-K.
Earlier this week, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said the country was trapped in "the largest humanitarian crisis in the world today," with nearly two-thirds of its population in urgent need of aid and six million at risk of famine, UN estimates reveal.
The war-torn nation has sought to recover from the damage by forging alliances with global powers, including China and Russia who both happen to rival the West's hegemony.
Part of such efforts involves restoring ties with its neighbor Pakistan via partnership in the China-sponsored Belt & Road Initiative.
"The idea is to engage Afghanistan in economic activity that has already linked China and Pakistan together," a Pakistani official told the Financial Times.
Earlier this year, in January, Chinese and Afghan officials announced they concluded a deal to allow Chinese state-owned Xinjiang Central Asia Petroleum and Gas Company to drill in the country.
Acting first deputy PM for economic affairs in the Afghan government Abdul Ghani Baradar stated that the deal will boost his country's economy and strengthen its independence.
"The contractor will invest up to $150 million a year, which will increase to $540 million in three years," according to the minister.
Read more: White House admits massive intel failure in hasty Afghan withdrawal
Likewise, the Taliban also announced in late September last year that they concluded a series of agreements involving trade in oil and wheat.
Beijing has maintained ties with the Taliban-led government after US forces withdrew from Afghanistan.
Afghanistan has been struggling with poverty, demanding US President Joe Biden to unfreeze 7 billion dollars worth of Afghan assets, which his administration will be splitting among families of 9/11 victims. None of the 9/11 terrorists were Afghan.
In addition to contributing to the development of Afghanistan, China has aided the country with food, winter materials, COVID-19 vaccines, and medicines worth close to $30 million.
Read more: US, NATO responsible for restoring Afghanistan security: Chinese envoy