China's foreign minister visits Afghanistan

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi poses for a picture prior to meeting U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome, Italy October 31, 2021. Tiziana Fabi/Pool via REUTERS

KABUL, March 24 (Reuters) - Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Kabul on Thursday, a spokesman for Afghanistan's foreign ministry said, the highest-level visit by a Chinese official since the Taliban took power last year and a day after many in the global community were angered by the group's closure of girls' high schools.

Wang met with acting Afghan foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi to discuss political and economic ties, including starting work in the mining sector and Afghanistan's possible role in China's Belt and Road infrastructure intuitive, according to a statement from an Afghan foreign ministry spokesman.

China is among just a handful of countries, including Pakistan and Qatar, that has sent a minister to Afghanistan since the Taliban took over the country in August.

Foreign governments, including Beijing, have held back on formally recognising the Taliban administration, with many saying the Taliban need to prove their commitment to human rights, counter-terrorism and inclusive governance.

The visit came after widespread global condemnation of the Taliban administration a day earlier, when it unexpectedly ordered girls home from high school, an abrupt U-turn on policy after having said earlier in the week school would be open to all students.

China will host a meeting of regional foreign ministers later this month, and the statement said Muttaqi would also participate in the meeting.

"Minister Muttaqi added that the security brought about by the new (government) lays the foundation for foreign investment, including for China, in Afghanistan that ensures their interest besides cooperating with Afghans in economic growth & stability with the full support of the new gov," foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi said.

Also on Thursday, the foreign ministry said Russia's Special Envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, visited Kabul and met with Muttaqi to discuss political and economic ties.

Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Bernadette Baum

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