China on Monday welcomed the US-Taliban peace deal signed in Doha over the weekend after more than 18 years of conflict in Afghanistan, calling it a “seed of peace”.
Beijing, which sees itself as an increasingly influential player in Afghanistan, urged the Taliban to “seize the opportunity” and start intra-Afghanistan talks.
The US-Taliban peace agreement was signed in Doha, Qatar, by US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad – US’s chief negotiator in the talks with the Taliban — and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who led the group’s talks with the US.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo witnessed the signing of the peace accord.
Representatives of foreign missions including India and China attended the signing ceremony.
Called the “Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan”, the peace accord outlines a series of commitments from Washington and the Taliban about reducing troop levels and intra-Afghan dialogue, aimed at bringing in lasting peace.
Under the deal, the US and Nato allies will pull back their troops stationed in the war-ravaged country within the next 14 months provided the Taliban maintain their part of the deal.
The Chinese foreign ministry called it an opportunity for peace and development.
‘We hope taking this as an opportunity, the seed of peace can grow and prosper in Afghanistan. Foreign troops in Afghanistan should withdraw in an orderly and responsible manner to ensure a smooth transition and void a security vacuum especially to prevent terrorist groups from growing stronger in Afghanistan,’’ Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian said on Monday.
“We think it is important to political settlement of the Afghan issue. China firmly supports the Afghan-led, Afghan own, broad and comprehensive and inclusive peace and reconciliation process,” he said.
“We call on the Taliban and all parties in Afghanistan to seize the opportunity and start inter-Afghan talks as soon as possible to discuss political and security arrangements acceptable to all and make joint efforts for lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan,” he said.
In September, a Taliban delegation had met China’s special representative for Afghanistan in Beijing to discuss the group’s peace talks with the US.
Along with Pakistan, China also has a trilateral foreign ministers’ dialogue, which has so far met three times.