China urges Western countries to help Taliban and lift sanctions

China has pressured the Taliban’s interim government in Afghanistan to “effectively” protect women’s rights and renewed its call to lift international sanctions on the conflict-torn country to help it cope with growing “economic chaos”.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi discussed the issue in two days of talks with Taliban leaders that ended Tuesday (26/10) in Doha, Qatar, officials said. Taliban officials said their high -level delegation included Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Ghani Baradar and Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi.

Wang Yi urged the international community to help Afghanistan overcome the “humanitarian crisis, economic turmoil, terrorist threat and governance difficulties,” and direct the country on a “good” development path.

“China urges Western countries as a whole, led by America, to lift sanctions, and calls on all parties to engage with the Afghan Taliban rationally and pragmatically,” Wang added.

The Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan last August, but they have been denied access to about $10 billion in foreign assets of the Afghan central bank. Most of the assets were held by the Central Bank of America on the grounds of human rights and other issues. These restrictions further allow the collapse of the Afghan economy.

The United Nations says more than 40 years of war and repeated natural disasters have resulted in a protracted food crisis, affecting millions of people. UN officials say Afghanistan is heading for the world’s “biggest humanitarian crisis” this winter as more than half the population, nearly 23 million people, will face acute hunger unless much-needed aid arrives.

Tuesday’s statement quoted Baradar as reassuring Wang that the Taliban continue to take “inclusive measures” and recruit personnel from all ethnic Afghans to participate in the country’s future government. Taliban officials have described talks with China as fruitful, and that the two sides are reviewing bilateral diplomatic relations, trade and educational opportunities for Afghan students in China.

In a statement, a Taliban spokesman said China had pledged an additional $6 million in humanitarian aid, including medicine and food.

China has pledged about $31 million in aid to Kabul, including food supplies. [ka/jm]

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