China’s foreign minister will meet officials from the Taliban over the weekend as Beijing explores boosting investment in Afghanistan, including including the crisis-stricken country in the Belt and Road infrastructure project. road.
Qin Gang will hold talks on Saturday in Pakistan with acting foreign minister of Afghanistan, Amir Khan Muttaqi, and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari of Pakistan on Saturday as part of the China-Pakistan-Afghan trilateral Foreign Ministers Dialogue.
The three ministers will discuss “regional stability and transit”, according to Afghanistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, along with promoting trade relations.
The meeting came after China’s Foreign Ministry announced last month that it “welcomes Afghanistan’s participation in Belt and Road cooperation and supports Afghanistan’s integration into regional economic cooperation and connectivity.” area”.
Since toppling the NATO-backed government in 2021 after two decades of war, the Taliban have wooed global powers including China and Russia to invest to revive a faltering economy and ease the regime’s international isolation.
This includes efforts to attract Chinese infrastructure investment to connect Afghanistan with neighboring countries, such as Pakistan, through the BRI.
Beijing has invested billions of dollars in Pakistan through the ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a construction network roads, trains, and ports that are ultimately expected to be worth up to $60 billion.
“The idea is to draw Afghanistan into the economic activity that has linked China and Pakistan together,” a Pakistani official told the Financial Times.
Chinese and Afghan officials said in January that the state-run Central Asia Xinjiang Oil and Gas Company had agreed to a deal to drill for oil in the country. The Taliban last year also agreed to a deal with Russia to supply oil and wheat.
But while Afghanistan’s rich, unexplored mineral reserves such as lithium and copper have foreign countries have long drawnMeaningful investment in infrastructure or mining has so far proved extremely difficult due to the precarious security situation.
The state-owned China Metallurgical Group Corporation in 2007 secured the rights to Mes Aynak, one of the world’s largest known copper reserves, but did not develop it.
Afghanistan has suffered an economic disaster since the return of the Taliban led the US and its allies to cut off most of their financial resources.
UN Secretary-General António Gutteres this week said the country was caught in the “biggest humanitarian crisis in the world today”. According to the United Nations, about 28 million people, or two-thirds of the population, need aid, with 6 million people on the verge of starvation.
The Taliban have also imposed their hardline ideology, Forbidden girls and women from education and work. This has led to many foreign governments severing ties with the group.
China and Pakistan both consider maintaining relations with the Taliban vital to the their security. Analysts say that Afghanistan is home to a number of terrorist groups in the region, including Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, which Pakistani officials blame for the surge in violence, as well as the militant group Duy Uighur, East Turkestan Islamic Movement.
The worsening situation has caused alarm throughout the region. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met his Pakistani counterpart Bhutto Zardari this week in India, where the two sides discussed the situation in Afghanistan.
Speaking to journalists, Lavrov said he expected the Taliban to “deliver (deliver) their promise of forming an inclusive government for all. . .[and]ensure representation of all political forces in Afghanistan. “This has yet to be done,” he added.