Islamabad: China hosted a delegation of top Afghan Taliban leaders recently as part of its efforts to encourage the militant group to join the peace process in the war-torn Afghanistan, a media report said.
The five-member delegation led by Afghan Taliban’s Qatar office chief Sher Abbas Stanikazai included Maulvi Shahabuddin Dilawar, Jan Muhammad Madani, Salam Hanafi and Saleh, the Express Tribune newspaper reported, quoting Taliban sources.
People who are aware of the activities of the Taliban Qatar office also confirmed the visit, the report said.
“The visit was part of the relations of the political office with European countries such as Norway, Germany, France, Britain as well as neighbouring and regional countries,” a Taliban source said.
“But these relations are focused on bringing about peace in Afghanistan and resolving the issue through negotiations,” said the source who did not want to be mentioned by name.
“Being a major world power, China is a main stakeholder and wants to play its vital role for peace and stability in Afghanistan. That is why it invited the Taliban,” another Taliban leader said.
Days after the Taliban trip that was made last month, Chinese special envoy for Afghanistan, Deng Xijun, visited Kabul and met senior Afghan leaders including President Ashraf Ghani.
Deng told Ghani that China has “encouraged the Taliban during our contacts with them to join the peace process,” Ghani’s office had said after the meeting last month.
“China has always conveyed to the Taliban during meetings that it recognises the Afghan government and the president and that talks are the only option for them,” Deng said.
The Taliban visited China days after a trilateral meeting of senior diplomats from China, Pakistan and Russia in Moscow that supported lifting of international sanctions on the Taliban leaders. PTI