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Afghanistan’s Taliban strives to expand Regional Links

The global community has so far refrained from recognizing the Taliban government in Afghanistan. But Kabul is attempting to expand its regional links, focusing on economic cooperation and the fight against terrorism.

Kabul witnessed a flurry of diplomatic activity at the end of January, with 11 countries accepting the Taliban’s invitation to attend an international conference dubbed ” Afghanistan Regional Cooperation Initiative”

The multilateral meeting was aimed at developing regional cooperation and it was attended by representatives of countries like India, China, Iran, Russia, Pakistan, and Iran among others, according to Taliban authorities.

It wasn’t clear whether the gathering produced any concrete results.

However, the conference seems to underline the will of the Taliban regime to build good relations with neighboring countries.

The Islamic Fundamentalist group can claim some initial success in its efforts to gain international recognition, like when China’s President Xi Jinping accepted the credentials of Asadullah Bilal Karimi, the Taliban-appointed Afghan ambassador at the end of January.

China stressed that diplomatic accreditation does not mean Beijing officially recognizes Afghanistan’s current rulers.

Nevertheless, the two countries have moved closer together since the Taliban took power in August 2021

According to a report by the media outlet Al Jazeera, several Chinese companies signed a series of business deals with the Taliban in 2023. These include 25 years of oil production contracts with an estimated investment value of $150 million (€ 137.5 million) in the first year, which would rise up to $540 million in the following three years.

Iran has also been cultivating closer relations with Kabul for years. Tehran named Iranian diplomat Hassan Kazemi Qomi as the country’s special envoy for Afghanistan in October 2021, just months after the Taliban takeover.

Even though the Iranian government has stopped short of recognizing the Taliban government, it has signaled it considers contact with the Taliban to be beneficial for the entire region.

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