The Chinese Foreign Minister made a surprise stop in Afghanistan

The Chinese foreign minister has taken an astonishing trip to Kabul to meet with the Taliban rulers in Afghanistan, even as the international community pledges to break the extremist movement a day before the opening of schools for girls outside the 6th grade.

KABUL, Afghanistan – China’s foreign minister made a surprise stop in Kabul on Thursday to meet with Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers, even as the international community expressed frustration over a breach of a radical movement’s promise to open a school for girls outside Grade 6.

The official Bakhtar news agency announced that Wang Yi would meet with Taliban leaders to “discuss a wide range of issues, including expanding political ties, economic and transit cooperation.”

The Taliban, which came to power last August after a tumultuous 20-year war between the US and NATO alliance, is seeking international recognition for opening up its economy, which has been in a state of collapse since its arrival.

China has shown no inclination to recognize the Taliban government but has refrained from criticizing the new rulers, denying them unhindered access to work and school, despite the fact that their repressive rules are directed at women in particular.

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

The U.S.-led coalition eliminated the Taliban in 2001 after refusing to hand over al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States. They return to power and establish an all-male Taliban-only interim government. The international community has been urging the government to open up to ethnic minorities, non-Taliban and women.

But last July, Wang hosted a delegation from the group led by top Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar in Tianjin, China, shortly before the group seized power from Afghanistan’s elected government.

At that meeting, Wang sought assurances that the Taliban would not allow anti-China groups to operate under their rule, citing the group as “an important military and political force in Afghanistan.” He said they were “expected to play an important role in the process of peace, reconciliation and reconstruction.”

Militants have reportedly found refuge in Afghanistan among the Turkish Muslim Uighur minority living in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region. China has waged a campaign of persecution against Uighurs and other Muslim minorities, including those detained in political re-education camps a million or more miles away.

The foreign East Turkestan Islamic Movement has been fighting a low-level uprising against Chinese rule for years.

It is allied with the Islamic State’s affiliate, known as the Islamic State, in the Taliban-held province of Khorajan, but its current operational status is unknown.

Despite Beijing’s repeated and documented reports of repression against the Uighurs, Wang was welcomed as a special guest at the OIC Foreign Ministers’ Summit in neighboring Pakistan this week.

There, Wang called for talks to end the war in Ukraine. OIC participant or host Pakistan, which is particularly vocal about growing Islamophobia, did not mention China’s repression of its Muslim minority. These include the destruction of mosques and the punishment of Uyghurs who participate in religious discipline.

China also has a vested interest in stabilizing Afghanistan, as it has been used as a base for insurgent attacks against its citizens in neighboring Pakistan. Pakistan has a multi-billion dollar road project that connects the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar with China in the northwest.

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Islamabad-based Associated Press writer Tamim Akhgar and Beijing’s Christopher Bowden contributed to the report.

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