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Taliban calls China its ‘main partner’ in rebuilding Afghanistan

Members of the Taliban's "special forces" Badri 313 Batallion. (YouTube screenshot)
September 03, 2021

A Taliban spokesperson said this week that China will be the militant group’s “main partner” to rebuild Afghanistan following President Joe Biden’s chaotic withdrawal from the Middle Eastern country.

“China will be our main partner and represents a great opportunity for us because it is ready to invest in our country and support reconstruction efforts,” Zabihullah Mujahid said in an interview published by Italian newspaper La Repubblica Wednesday, according to the Daily Sabah.

Mujahid said the Taliban admire China’s Belt and Road Initiative because it “will revive the ancient Silk Road.” He added that the communist nation will help Afghanistan access global markets by fully utilizing its abundant copper resources.

The Taliban also claimed its spokesman Abdul Salam Hanafi had a phone call with China’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Wu Jianghao, who said China will be maintaining its embassy in Kabul, sought to “beef up” relations with the Taliban, and viewed Afghanistan as an important role in the region.

The Taliban also consider Russia a partner, he continued, and plan to maintain a positive relationship with Moscow.

The final United States military plane departed Afghanistan on Monday, and while the Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport has been severely damaged, it is fully under Taliban control, Mujahid noted.

Turkey and Qatar are working to get the airport up and running, Mujahid said, adding, “The airport should be clean within the next three days and will be rebuilt in a short time. I hope it will be operational again in September.”

On international relations, Mujahid said the Taliban hope Italy will officially recognize their government and reopen its Kabul embassy.

As Western nations rushed to evacuate citizens from the rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan late last month, the Taliban declared the war in Afghanistan over, taking control of the presidential palace.

“The Taliban have won with the judgment of their swords and guns, and are now responsible for the honor, property and self-preservation of their countrymen,” former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said in August after fleeing the country as the Taliban took over.

Mohammad Naeem, another Taliban spokesperson, told Al-Jazeera TV that the Taliban “have witnessed the fruits of their efforts and their sacrifices for 20 years.”

“Today is a great day for the Aghan people and the mujahideen,” he said, adding, “Thanks to God, the war is over in the country.”

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken each confirmed as many as 200 Americans remain in Afghanistan following the end of the U.S. involvement in the war in Afghanistan.