China to host virtual meeting on Afghanistan

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Beijing: China says it will host a virtual meeting of Central and South Asian state leaders to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

The meeting of members of the China and Russia dominated Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is scheduled for Thursday.

Afghanistan is an observer member of the grouping, but it wasn’t clear if any representatives from the Taliban leadership would be attending.

China hasn’t said whether it will recognise the new Afghan authorities who have excluded outside parties and women, although it has courted its leadership and kept its Kabul Embassy open.

The government and state media have accused the United States of destabilizing Afghanistan through what it calls a hasty and chaotic withdrawal of its troops, even as the Taliban swiftly overcame Afghan government forces over recent weeks.

China has used the Shanghai Cooperation to boost its standing in Central Asia through political dialogue and joint military exercises, aimed largely at diminishing U.S. influence in the region.

Beijing has also called on the Taliban to hold to its pledge to restrain militants seeking independence for the traditionally Muslim northwestern region of Xinjiang, Foreign Minister Wang Yi has urged the group to keep border crossings open, while offering USD 31 million in humanitarian assistance, along with 3 million doses of Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccines.

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