China urges that Afghan funds abroad be unfrozen

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Beijing

China says it is maintaining contact between its embassy in Afghanistan and the Taliban and is calling for Afghan government funds held abroad to be unfrozen.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Wednesday said the Chinese Embassy in Kabul was “operating normally.” “We stand ready to maintain communication with the new Afghan authority,” Zhao said.

China has yet to say whether it will recognize the Taliban government, but has been actively courting its top officials, hosting a delegation led by its political leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in July, shortly before the group swept to power amid the withdrawal of U.S. forces and the mass exodus of Afghans fearing a return of the Taliban’s hard-line Islamic rule.

China has also been sharply critical of the nature of the pullout, and, while wary of the rise of radicalism on its western border, has been generally supportive of the group seen as defeating its strategic rival, the United States.

Afghanistan is now teetering on the edge of economic collapse and while China has offered support, its not clear when or how it will deliver.

Last week, the Taliban announced an all-male interim government but the exclusion of other political factions and women has made it unlikely that they will win broad international support or international recognition as the legitimate leaders of Afghanistan.—AP

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