International

Beijing invites Taliban for ‘intra-Afghan’ meet

China has invited a Taliban delegation to attend an “intra-Afghan” conference in Beijing, a militant spokesman said on Wednesday, after a prospective deal between the U.S. and the insurgents collapsed last month.

Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban political spokesman, said on Twitter that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the group’s co-founder, had met with Chinese diplomats in Doha, where the militants have a political office. “Both sides discussed the upcoming intra-Afghan conference in Beijing and issues related to the solution of Afghan problem,” Mr. Shaheen wrote.

He later told AFP the conference would take place from October 29 to 31.

It would be separate from talks between the U.S. and the Taliban, which spent the past year negotiating a deal that would have seen the Pentagon pull thousands of troops from Afghanistan in return for various security guarantees.

President Donald Trump scrapped those talks last month amid continued Taliban violence in Afghanistan, including a bombing that killed an American soldier.

The Taliban have steadfastly refused to talk to the Afghan government, and Mr. Shaheen said any attendance by Afghan officials in Beijing would be on the understanding they were representing only themselves.

Source: thehindu.com

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