China demands clear cut to Taliban terror ties after ‘positive’ signs

While the Taliban has made some “positive gestures” to calm security concerns over Afghanistan , China’s foreign minister has said the insurgent group needs to be very clear about cutting its ties with terror groups.

“The situation in Afghanistan has changed overnight. What happens next will depend on the policy direction of the Afghanistan Taliban,” Wang Yi said in a phone call with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, according to a foreign ministry statement released on Wednesday.

“The leaders of the Taliban said they would solve the problems faced by the people and satisfy the people’s aspirations. This is sending a positive signal to the outside world.”

Wang said remarks by Taliban officials that the group aimed to establish an inclusive government and would not allow Afghanistan to be a threat to other countries was the “right direction”, but he added that those pledges needed to be translated into specific policies and actions.

“To this end, the Afghanistan Taliban needs to completely cut off from all terrorist forces with a clear attitude and take measures to combat international terrorist organisations classified by the UN Security Council, including the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM),” Wang said, referring to the group blamed by Beijing for violent attacks in .

The Taliban is aiming to restore the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the country’s formal name under Taliban rule before the militants were ousted by US-led forces in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

Since taking over the capital Kabul on Sunday, the armed group said it had become moderate and pledged more rights for women and an amnesty for government officials. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the group did not want any internal or external enemies and would maintain peaceful relations with other nations.

The return of the Taliban to Kabul has raised fears in Beijing that the turmoil in Afghanistan could spill across its border with China’s region.

In recent days, senior diplomats from the major players involved in the region – including the US, China, Russia, India and Pakistan – have held urgent talks on Afghanistan’s future, with Beijing calling for the “soft landing” of a stable transition without bloodshed.

Beijing raised its stake in the Central Asian country last month when it hosted a Taliban delegation in Tianjin led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, tipped to become Afghanistan’s next president. The Chinese embassy in Kabul remains in operation, even as countries such as the US and India evacuate their diplomatic staff.

In a separate phone call with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday, Wang said their two nations needed to step up coordination over Afghanistan.

China and Pakistan will “support Afghanistan in combating terrorism, and preventing it from becoming a hotbed for terror forces,” Wang said, adding the two countries would also facilitate international cooperation over the situation.

“The two sides should encourage all Afghan parties to strengthen solidarity, and to establish a new broad-based and inclusive political structure that is suited to the Afghan national conditions, and supported by the public,” he said.

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