China on Thursday confirmed that it had hosted Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar — the group’s deputy chief on political affairs — as part of its bid to expand its role in Afghanistan, which is set for another major transition.
In response to a question, foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said that Chinese officials exchanged views with Mr. Baradar and his aides on “peace and reconciliation process as well as the fight against terrorism”.
The dialogue took place ahead of the seventh round of talks between the Taliban and the United States in Doha, Qatar.
Analysts point out that the “peace and reconciliation” process would conclude once the Afghan government and the Taliban agree on a power-sharing formula.
China has stepped up its engagement with Afghanistan, apprehending that the proposed U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan can result in a power vacuum, which can trigger an outflow of militants belonging to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), destabilising the neghbouring Xinjiang region.
Mr. Lu stressed that China was focusing on promoting an internal dialogue between the Taliban and the Afghan government led by the President Ashraf Ghani.