China will provide Afghanistan with security equipment and training, President Xi Jinping told his Afghan counterpart on Friday, days after Chinese officials observed the first tentative peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban.
Pakistan hosted the talks aimed at ending more than 13 years of war in neighbouring Afghanistan, where the Taliban have been trying to re-establish their regime after it was toppled by US-led military intervention in 2001.
Beijing is keen to see a stable Afghanistan, worried about what it says are separatist groups in China’s far western region of Xinjiang, which borders the Central Asian country.
“Increasing security cooperation suits both countries’ interests. China will continue to supply Afghanistan with security supplies, technology, equipment and training assistance,” Xi told Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during a meeting in Russia. Xi is in the Russian city of Ufa for the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
The statement did not give further details on Chinese assistance, but Beijing has long pledged security cooperation with Afghanistan and has been bracing for more responsibility there as US forces have scaled back.
China says it does not seek to replace departing Western troops in Afghanistan but has promised to play a ‘huge’ commercial role in helping rebuild the country.
IS tentacles growing: Putin
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin on Friday warned that the Islamic State (IS) group is reaching into Afghanistan, as he hosted a regional security summit drawing to a close.
“We noted the growing activities of the IS group militants who have extended their tentacles into this country,” Putin said at a press conference after the SCO summit.
Putin then held his first historic bilateral talks with Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani, who has struggled to secure the country from IS fighters and has launched talks with a revitalised Taliban.
The SCO leaders earlier discussed Afghanistan security problems following the departure of the international military contingent, and agreed to “support the efforts of Afghanistan’s government” to establish a state ‘free of terrorism’.
Putin said that a decade of international military presence there “did not bring about a quality change for the better in the situation” in security terms, while Central Asian states were worried that radicals will spread to their territories.
“There is a real threat of the trickling of instability into neighbouring countries. We, neighbours of Afghanistan cannot ignore this,” said Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov. The departure of the international forces from Afghanistan ‘cannot but worry’ nearby countries, he said, because “the vacuum can be filled by various terrorist forces.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2015.