US President Joe Biden said Monday that a longer war in Afghanistan would have benefited China and Russia, even as his top diplomat consulted the two adversaries on the swift Taliban victory.
“Our true strategic competitors China and Russia would love nothing more than the United States to continue to funnel billions of dollars in resources and attention in stabilizing Afghanistan indefinitely,” Biden said in a nationwide address as he staunchly defended his decision to pull troops.
Earlier, Secretary of State Antony Blinken nonetheless discussed Afghanistan with the foreign ministers of Russia and China, both of which have moved quickly to work with the Taliban.
Russia said Blinken and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed Moscow’s outreach to various Afghan political forces that is aimed at “helping ensure stability and public order.”
The two “agreed to continue consultations with the participation of China, Pakistan and other interested nations to establish the right conditions to begin an inclusive inter-Afghan dialogue under the new conditions,” a Russian foreign ministry statement said.
Both Russia and China stepped up contacts with the Taliban after the United States decided to withdraw from Afghanistan, ending a 20-year military involvement and setting off the swift crumbling of the government in Kabul.
Moscow, which in Soviet times spent a decade in a costly occupation of Afghanistan during which it battled Islamic guerrillas then backed by Washington, has kept its embassy open in Kabul and plans discussions with the Taliban.
Russia has said it sees the Taliban “restoring order,” while China said Monday it wanted “friendly and cooperative” relations” with Afghanistan under the Taliban.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Blinken that Beijing sought an “open and inclusive political framework.”
“China stands ready to communicate with the United States to push for a soft landing of the Afghan issue, so that a new civil war or humanitarian disaster will be prevented in Afghanistan and the country will not relapse into a hotbed and shelter for terrorism,” Wang said, according to state news agency Xinhua.
China, which according to human rights groups has incarcerated more than one million mostly Muslim people from the Uyghur and other minorities in a campaign Washington considers genocide, is eager to stop Islamic radicalism on its soil and is allied with Pakistan, the Taliban’s historic backer.
Blinken also spoke Monday with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and since Sunday has spoken to counterparts from key allies including Britain, France and Germany, the State Department said.
US negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad regularly consulted Russia and China during his unsuccessful diplomacy to encourage a peaceful power-sharing agreement as the United States withdrew.
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