China to work with Pakistan, others for Afghan peace process

Beijing: China has expressed its backing for Pakistan and other parties to “push for peace and reconciliation” in the war-torn Afghanistan, days after the second round of peace talks were put off following news of Taliban chief Mullah Omar’s death. Foreign Ministry today said that while China understands the reasons for postponement of talks, it wants all parties to focus on national unity and lasting peace in Afghanistan and continue to push forward the peace and reconciliation process. “It is in the common interests of all Afghan people and parties and conducive to regional peace and stability,” state- run Xinhua quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang as saying.

He said China is willing to work with Pakistan and other parties to promote the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. The second round of Afghan-Taliban talks had few surprises. According to earlier reports, talks were scheduled to take place in Xinjiang’s provincial capital Urmuqi, but shifted to Pakistan, where the first round was held. China along with Pakistan and United States attend the talks apparently as observers.

It has stepped up its role in Afghanistan peace process in apparent move to stabilise its Xinjiang which witnessed violent attacks following unrest among its Uyugur Muslim population in the province. China blames separatist East Turkistan Islamic Movement (EtIM) for the violent attacks. Xinjiang shares borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK). Omar’s death announced ahead of the talks changed the dynamics of the Afghan peace process in which China, US and Pakistan played lead role in trying to bring about reconciliation between Taliban and Afghanistan.

Taliban has named a new leader, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, who backs peace talks. But at the same time Omar’s death also raises questions about how it was kept a secret for over two years and when US and China have been informed about it. The death of Omar was also announced by Afghan government and Taliban admitted it after initial denial. The first round of face-to-face talks between Taliban representatives and the Afghanistan government was held in Pakistan on July 7.

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