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Chinese officials hold talks with Taliban delegation


Beijing: Chinese officials have held talks with a Taliban delegation ahead of the presidential elections in Afghanistan on September 28, days after US President Donald Trump cancelled a meeting with the militant group in the war-torn country.

The Taliban delegation, headed by Mullah Baradar, spoke to China's special envoy to Afghanistan Deng Xijun on Sunday, the spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Geng Shuang, said at a media briefing here on Monday.

Though Geng confirmed the Taliban delegation's visit on Monday, he gave few details.

The situation in Afghanistan has changed dramatically after US President Donald Trump called off his meeting with Taliban representatives two weeks ago following a deadly attack by insurgent groups in Kabul that killed an American soldier.

The proposed US-Taliban talks and a reported agreement between the two about the withdrawal of American troops raised concern about further violence and political uncertainty in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is due to hold presidential elections on September 28 in which President Ashraf Ghani is seeking re-election.

The election is already marred by violence. Twenty-six people were killed in a suicide bomb attack on September 17 at a poll rally addressed by Ghani.

On September 7, China attended a trilateral foreign ministers meet with Pakistan and Afghanistan in Islamabad.

China has been in constant communication with all parties involved in the Afghan issue, Geng said.

On Trump's move to cancel peace talks with Taliban, Geng said, "We hope the US and Taliban will maintain the momentum of talks. We support the internal dialogue and negotiations in Afghanistan and (hope for) national reconciliation and peace and stability at an early date. China is willing to continue to play a constructive role in this regard," he said.

Earlier, China called on the US to withdraw its troops in an "orderly and responsible way" from the war-torn country to prevent chaos and confusion.

Asked whether China has asked the Taliban to stop attacks on polling stations, Geng said China has consistently supported Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation.

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