A high level delegation from China is expected to visit Afghanistan in the near future where it will announce Beijing’s full support to the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, the office of Mohammad Hanif Atmar, national security advisor to the president said Thursday.
Meanwhile, Army Gen. Joseph Votel, the commander of US Central Command has said that the US will continue putting military, social and political pressure on the Taliban to press the group to come to the negotiating table.
“Asian countries including China are continuing their efforts for peace talks in Afghanistan and we warmly welcome their efforts and hope that these efforts finaly bring the Taliban to the negotiation table,” said deputy spokesman to CEO Abdullah Abdullah Omaid Maisam.
Forces in Afghanistan are applying military pressure on the Taliban to convince them to enter talks toward reconciliation with the Afghan government, Votel noted.
Votel said he wants to look at minimizing vulnerabilities to Afghan forces, and especially wants to look at employment of high-end Afghan special operations forces and ensuring those forces are used correctly and not overused.
Officials from the High Peace Council (HPC) welcomed the move by China to boost the prospects for direct peace negotiations in Afghanistan.
“Meetings by the US, China, Saudi Arabia or any other country with the Taliban is only aimed to facilitate the direct talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government,” said HPC spokesman Sayed Ehsan Tahiri.
Chinese ambassador to Afghanistan Liu Jinsong said on Wednesday the level of distrust between the Afghan government and the Taliban is a key obstacle in the way of achieving peace in the country and that this issue has created serious challenges.
He said China has always supported the issue of peace talks and that they “continue to facilitate the talks based on the principle of (it being) Afghan-led and Afghan-owned.”
He questioned why little progress appears to have been made and said: “Everyone knows the reason - because of a lack of trust for the central government and the Taliban and also other reasons.”
He said there were many challenges at the moment regarding the issue and that the “Taliban have also some kind of topic that some stakeholders can’t accept.”
In addition a number of former Taliban commanders have said that the Chinese engagement in the peace process in Afghanistan has major significance to the Taliban.
“I personally believe that every country in Asia including China has the right to talk about the presence of foreign forces in the country and it is the right of the Chinese government,” said former Taliban commander Sayed Akbar Agha.
China courted Afghan Taliban in secret meetings
On August 6, the Financial Times reported that Chinese officials had reportedly met the Afghan Taliban several times in the past year.
People involved in facilitating the talks said Beijing had made a concerted push to engage with the Taliban, going as far as inviting senior members of the group to China.
“The Chinese took great care in making those arrangements,” said one Pakistani official who had been briefed on the trip. Islamabad had acted as a broker for the Taliban, helping to set up negotiations with both China and the US, the Financial Times reported.