BEIJING: China says it has established an “open and effective communication and consultation with the Afghan Taliban,’’ following a meeting between representatives of the group and Beijing’s ambassador to Kabul.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin gave no details about the Tuesday meeting between the deputy head of the Taliban’s political office, Abdul Salam Hanafi and Ambassador Wang Yu.
But he said China considered Kabul to be an “important platform and channel for both sides to discuss important matters of all kinds.’’
China hosted a delegation led by senior Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar for talks last month, prior to the group’s lightning sweep to power in Kabul.
China has kept its embassy in the city open and says it has no plans for a wholesale evacuation of its citizens in Afghanistan, while relentlessly criticising the US over the chaotic scenes at Kabul airport.
“We have always respected Afghanistan’s sovereign independence and territorial integrity, pursued a policy of non-interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs and adhered to a policy of friendship toward the entire Afghan people,’’ Wang told reporters at a daily briefing Wednesday in Beijing.
“China respects the Afghan people’s independent decision on their own future and destiny, supports the implementation of the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned principle, and stands ready to continue to develop good-neighborly relations of friendship and cooperation with Afghanistan and play a constructive role in the peace and reconstruction of the country,’’ Wang said.
Britain’s foreign minister, meanwhile, said he can’t give a “recise timeline’’ about the end of UK evacuation flights from Afghanistan, but the mission will be over by August 31.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said “it’s clear that the troops will be withdrawn by the end of the month.’’
US President Joe Biden has rejected pressure from Britain and other allies to extend the evacuation operation, saying it will end on August 31. There are almost 6,000 American troops at the airport helping people flee the Taliban, along with smaller military contingents from other countries.
Raab said the British military will need time before the deadline to withdraw its people and equipment, but ``we will make the maximum use of all the time we have left.’’
He said British forces have airlifted 9,000 British citizens and at-risk Afghans from Kabul airport since the Taliban took the Afghan capital on August 15.