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Taliban officials welcomed first Chinese ambassador since takeover

China has become a prominent country with an active diplomatic mission to Afghanistan since takeover. The Chinese government has appointed Ambassador Zhao Sheng as the head of its mission in Afghanistan. On Wednesday, the Taliban ceremoniously welcomed China’s new ambassador to Afghanistan, confirming Beijing’s diplomatic recognition of the interim authorities.

Mr. Zhao was greeted by uniformed soldiers during a meeting with senior Taliban officials. Mr. Zhao, dressed in a grey suit and accompanied by a group of four people, met with the Taliban minister to present his credentials. Four Taliban ministry officials were also present at the reception.

Taliban Supreme Chief of Staff Mohammad Hasan Akhund and Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaki attended the reception in Kabul. The minister said Mr. Zhao’s appointment was “an important step carrying an important message.” The deputy spokesperson of the Taliban’s Foreign Ministry said, sharing photos of the meeting:

 “Muttaqi assured the new Chinese ambassador of all kinds of cooperation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The foreign minister considered the bilateral relations between Afghanistan and China to be special.”

It is the first such flamboyant political event since U.S. and NATO troops withdrew from the country in 2021. However, presenting credentials to the country’s head of state is a tradition for new ambassadors, according to Zabiul Mujahid, the Taliban’s chief spokesman.  He said:

 “It also signals to other countries to come forward and interact with the Islamic Emirate. We should establish good relations as a result of good interactions and, with good relations, we can solve all the problems that are in front of us or coming in the future.”

Chinese officials have not issued an official statement confirming the presence of Mr. Zhao’s diplomatic mission in Afghanistan. However, the Chinese Embassy in Afghanistan urges the international community to continue to build ties with Afghanistan, encourage the country to fight terrorism, adopt moderate policies, and develop friendly ties with neighboring countries.

Embassy representatives in their appeal call for the abandonment of double standards in the fight against terrorism, the lifting of sanctions and the return of foreign assets.

The seat at the United Nations remains occupied by representatives of the former Western-backed government led by Ashraf Ghani.

More than a hundred countries officially do not recognize the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. They block financial assets abroad to prevent financial abuse by the hardline Islamist group.

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