China postpones inter-Afghan peace talks: Taliban

BEIJING, Oct. 1, 2019 (Xinhua) — Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, delivers a speech at a grand rally to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China at the Tian’anmen Square in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 1, 2019. (Xinhua/Ju Peng/IANS)

Kabul, Oct 26 (IANS) The Taliban on Saturday said that China has postponed a round of inter-Afghan negotiations between the militant group and members of Afghanistan’s civil society planned for October 28-29 in Beijing, in an attempt to relaunch the peace process after the US abruptly pulled out of talks with the insurgents.

“We are informed by Chinese government (about the delay), they asked for few days,” Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told Efe news on Saturday.

The spokesperson, who admitted to be unaware of the reason for the delay, added that they have not yet been informed of the new dates for the meeting and were waiting for more details.

The 15-member Taliban delegation, led by Mullah Baradar, head of the political office of the insurgents in Qatar, were yet to leave for the conference in China, explained Mujahid.

The Taliban, which a month ago sent a nine-member delegation to China, said the talks will take place within the framework of earlier negotiations in Moscow and Doha to seek a road map for peace after 18 years of war, and it will be attended by all political parties of the Afghan society, but in their official capacity.

The Afghan government responded to the announcement of the meeting on Wednesday, saying it hoped that it would be a step forward in the peace process, although it had clarified that it was still discussing its participation with the Chinese authorities.

In recent months, violence against civilians has increased significantly and touched record numbers between July and September.

According to the latest data from the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), 1,174 civilians were killed and 3,139 injured during July-September, the highest civilian casualties recorded since the mission began keeping records in 2009.

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