By K J Varma
(Eds: Updating with more inputs)
Beijing, Sep 8 (PTI) China on Wednesday announced USD 31 million as aid to Afghanistan, its first after the Taliban seized power in Kabul, as it backed the Afghan militant group’s interim government, saying it is a “necessary step” to restore order and “end anarchy”.
Taking part in the first meeting of Foreign Ministers of the neighbouring countries on Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China will provide Afghanistan with 200 million yuan (USD 31 million) worth of grains, winter supplies, vaccines and medicines as per its requirements, official media here reported.
The meeting convened by Pakistan was also attended by foreign ministers from Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, all of them the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan.
Russia was conspicuously absent at the meeting hosted by Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
Wang said that China will provide Afghanistan with 200 million yuan (USD 31 million) worth of grains, winter supplies, vaccines and medicines as per the needs of its people, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Wang said China has decided to donate 3 million vaccine doses to the Afghan people in the first batch. China is also ready to provide more anti-epidemic and emergency materials to Afghanistan under the China-South Asian Countries Emergency Supplies Reserves.
Wang said China would work with countries in the region to help Afghanistan rebuild its economy and society, as well as fight terrorist groups and the illegal drug trade.
The Taliban on Tuesday unveiled a hardline interim government led by Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund, with key roles being shared by high-profile members of the insurgent group, including a specially designated global terrorist of the dreaded Haqqani Network as the interior minister.
Earlier, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing here “China attaches importance to the Afghan Taliban's announcement of the formation of an interim government and some key roles”.
“This has put an end to the anarchy in Afghanistan that lasted for over three weeks and is a necessary step for Afghanistan to restore domestic order and pursue post-war reconstruction”, he said responding to a question on the formation of the interim government.
Significantly, state-run Xinhua reported Wang Wenbin’s comments with a headline “China welcomes Taliban's announcement of caretaker government”.
The spokesman also highlighted the Taliban's statement that the interim government is formed to restore social and economic order as soon as possible.
He also reiterated China's stand that the Taliban should establish a broad based and inclusive political structure.
“We hope Afghanistan will establish a broadly based and inclusive political structure, follow moderate and prudent domestic and foreign policies, resolutely combat all types of terrorist forces, and live on friendly terms with other countries, especially its neighbours”.
Beijing also supports the Afghan people in independently choosing a development path suited to the country's conditions, he said, adding that China will respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan.
Asked whether China would recognise the new administration considering that Beijing has been calling for an "open and inclusive" government, Wang said the Chinese Embassy in Afghanistan is operating normally, suggesting that Beijing already has its diplomatic presence in Kabul.
“We stand ready to maintain communication with the new Afghan government and leaders”, he said.
“We hope the new Afghan administration in the capacity of interim government will broadly solicit the opinions of all ethnic groups and factions and live up to the expectation of the Afghan people and aspiration of the international community. We noted that the Afghan Taliban stressed that all people will benefit from the new administration”, he said.
When asked about the statement by The National Resistance Front (NRF) which is fighting the Taliban forces in Panjshir valley in Afghanistan the interim government is illegal and its appeal to the international community to not to recognise it, Wang has called for unity among all Afghan political parties and factions.
“China sincerely hopes that all parties in Afghanistan will meet the urgent desire of the Afghan people and the expectation of the international community, resolve relevant differences through consultation, ensure a smooth transition, enable the war-scarred Afghan people to get rid of war and conflict as soon as possible and establish lasting peace,” he said.
A Taliban delegation headed by its senior leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar had visited China in July and held talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang. PTI KJV RS AKJ RS