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5.19pm EDT17:19

China’s talks with Taliban could be a positive thing, US says

The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has said that Beijing’s interest in Afghanistan could be a “positive thing”, after China gave a warm and very public welcome to a senior Taliban delegation.

Nine officials from the militant group, which is eager for political recognition to bolster the impact of its military victories across much of Afghanistan, met China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, in the coastal city of Tianjin on Wednesday.

Photographs showed Wang welcoming Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar , the Taliban’s co-founder and head of its political commission, with open arms, then sitting down for talks with the Taliban delegation.

China hosted Taliban representatives in 2019, and is thought to maintain unofficial links with the group through its ally Pakistan.

Wang said the withdrawal of American and Nato troops, which will be officially completed by the end of August, “marks the failure of the US policy toward Afghanistan”. He called the Taliban “an important military and political force in Afghanistan”, and urged the group to make progress in peace talks.

Although the US might once have fiercely resisted Chinese attempts to increase their influence inside Afghanistan, now Washington’s priority appears to be staving off a collapse into full civil war.

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