May 19, 2022

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Xi firmly supports Afghanistan at regional conference

Xi firmly supports Afghanistan at regional conference

BEIJING (AFP) – Chinese leader Xi Jinping expressed strong support for Afghanistan at a regional conference on Thursday, while making no mention of human rights abuses by Taliban leaders in the country. Meanwhile, the Chinese foreign minister has led calls for the United States to unfreeze Afghan assets located abroad and end sanctions against the government.

Xi pledged China’s support in a message to a gathering of representatives from Afghanistan, China, Russia, Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in a central Chinese city, highlighting Beijing’s aspirations to play a leadership role in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US forces. last August.

“A peaceful, stable, developed and prosperous Afghanistan” is what the Afghans aspire to, Xi said, which “serves the common interests of countries in the region and the international community.”

“China has always respected Afghanistan’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and is committed to promoting the peaceful and stable development of Afghanistan,” Xi said in his message to the gathering in Tunxi, the center of the tourism industry in Anhui Province.

A joint statement issued after the meeting noted the importance of ensuring women’s rights, educating children and protecting the rights of all ethnic groups. She also urged the countries mainly responsible for the current impasse in Afghanistan to fulfill their commitments regarding its economic recovery.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said the two sides agreed that the United States and NATO “should take the primary responsibility for the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan seriously, and return the property of the Afghan people as soon as possible,” referring to the $7 billion that has been frozen. Afghan assets held by the United States

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President Joe Biden has said his administration will unfreeze $3.5 billion of that money To the families of the September 11th victims against the violent protests of the Taliban and others.

Afghanistan’s economy teeters on the brink of collapse After the international money stopped entering the country with the arrival of the Taliban. The United Nations warns that one million children are at risk of starvation and that 90% of Afghans live below the poverty level of just $1.90 a day.

In his comments, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi continued Beijing’s attacks on the United States over its dealings with Afghanistan, saying that as the “initiator of Afghanistan’s predicament”, Washington should “bear the main responsibility”, and unconditionally end the unilateral sanctions imposed on the country. Return of Afghanistan’s state-owned assets.

Wang said Afghanistan had achieved “some partial results” in promoting stability, improving livelihoods and protecting human rights, despite widespread reports of abuses and inept governance under the Taliban.

However, he said Afghanistan “has a long way to go to achieve lasting peace, sustainable development, and strengthen its foreign relations.”

Neither Xi nor Wang gave details of future Chinese assistance, although China has already shipped emergency aid to Afghanistan and is seeking to develop copper mining there.

China follows what it calls a strict policy of “non-interference” in the internal affairs of other countries, including opposing those organized for humanitarian purposes unless authorized by the United Nations. Despite this, Beijing is often accused of meddling to advance its domestic and international interests.

Separately, Wang also attended a meeting of special envoys for Afghanistan from China, the United States and Russia, a group known as the “Extended Troika.”. At that forum, Wang again called for an end to “unreasonable” sanctions and the unfreezing of Afghan assets, saying the United States should take “practical steps” on these matters.

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Although it has not yet recognized the Taliban government, China has moved quickly to strengthen its ties with the extremist Islamist group.

A month before the Taliban took power, Wang hosted a high-ranking delegation From the set on July 28, 2021, in the Chinese port city of Tianjin. He referred to the group as an important “pivotal” force for peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan.

On those and other occasions, the Chinese pushed the Taliban to get assurances that they would not allow operations within Afghanistan’s borders by members of China’s Muslim Turkic Uyghur minority to overthrow Chinese rule in their home region of Xinjiang.

Wang also stopped suddenly in Kabul last week to meet with Taliban leaders, even as the international community is outraged that the militant movement did not promise the day before to open schools for girls after sixth grade.

China has seriously avoided mentioning restrictions on girls’ education and other human rights abuses, particularly those targeting women, while keeping its embassy in Kabul open.

The foreign ministers of Qatar and Indonesia were invited to attend the meeting of the neighboring countries as guests. The Taliban-appointed foreign minister, Amir Khan Muttaki, will represent Afghanistan at the meeting.

The participants agreed on a mechanism for regular meetings of their special envoys for Afghanistan and three working groups to coordinate in political, diplomatic, economic, humanitarian, security and stability affairs.

Uzbekistan will host the fourth meeting of foreign ministers.