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AFP
October 24, 2019

China invites Taliban to intra-Afghan talks

Top Story

AFP
October 24, 2019

KABUL: China has invited a Taliban delegation to attend an "intra-Afghan" conference in Beijing, a militant spokesman said on Wednesday, after a prospective deal between the United States and the insurgents collapsed last month.

Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban political spokesman, said on Twitter that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the group´s co-founder, had met with Chinese diplomats in Doha, where the militants have a political office. "Both sides discussed the upcoming intra-Afghan conference in Beijing and issues related to the solution of Afghan problem," Shaheen wrote.

He later told AFP the conference would take place on October 29-30. It would be separate from talks between the US and the Taliban, which spent the past year negotiating a deal that would have seen the Pentagon pull thousands of troops from Afghanistan in return for various security guarantees.

President Donald Trump scrapped those talks last month amid continued Beijing has not confirmed the new discussions, but a foreign ministry spokeswoman said at a regular briefing on Wednesday it is "willing to facilitate and help" the Afghan peace process "on the basis of respecting the wishes of all parties".

In a statement, the Afghan peace ministry said "talks are ongoing" with the Chinese government for a possible summit, which it welcomed "in principle" but it did not commit to sending anyone. "If acceptable standards are observed, a decision will be made in regard with participating in this conference," the statement read. Shaheen told AFP that only lower-level government officials should be allowed on the guest list.

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