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China’s foreign minister makes surprise stop in Afghanistan

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN (AP) – China’s foreign minister made a surprise stop yesterday in Afghanistan’s capital to meet with the country’s new Taleban rulers – even as the international community fumes over the former insurgents’ broken promise to re-open schools to girls beyond the sixth grade.

The official Bakhtar News Agency announced that Wang Yi will meet with Taleban leaders “to discuss various issues, including the extension of political relations, economic, and transit cooperation”.

The Taleban, who seized power last August during the last, chaotic weeks of the withdrawal of United States (US) and NATO forces from Afghanistan after 20 years of war, have been seeking international recognition in order to open up the country’s economy, which has been in free fall since their takeover.

China has not shown any inclination to recognise the Taleban government but has avoided criticising the new rulers despite their repressive rules directed particularly at women, who are denied the right to work and full access to education.

On Wednesday, the Taleban unexpectedly reversed plans to reopen schools in Afghanistan to girls above the sixth grade, reneging on their promise in a move apparently meant to appease their hard-line base at the expense of further alienating the international community.

China has also kept its embassy in Kabul open and has offered limited emergency assistance.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. PHOTO: AP