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Asia Minute: Region Reacts to Taliban’s Return to Power

Afghanistan taliban aug 2021
Zabi Karimi/AP
Taliban fighters take control of Afghan presidential palace after the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Zabi Karimi)

The speed of the collapse of the Afghan government has surprised people around the world, including in the Asia Pacific.

Indonesia, Singapore and China have each had separate dealings with Afghanistan — and in some cases, with the Taliban.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo wanted his country to play a role in peace talks in Afghanistan.

Three and a half years ago, he suggested hosting a gathering of religious scholars from Indonesia, Pakistan and Afghanistan to promote peace and reconciliation — but the Taliban boycotted the conference.

On Monday, the Jakarta Post published an editorial saying, “While other predominantly Muslim or Islamic countries are embracing the tenets of modernization and civilization that are in line with Islamic teachings and values, there are fears that Afghanistan under the Taliban will revert to the 'stone age.'"

In Singapore, the focus was on domestic security.

The Straits Times quoted the country’s Internal Security Department as saying the Taliban’s return could lead to “increased terror-related activities in Southeast Asia.”

Last month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with a delegation of high-level Taliban officials in the northern city of Tianjin.

On Monday, a spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry said Beijing’s government has “maintained contact and communication with the Taliban” — adding that the Taliban “has expressed many times a desire for good relations with China.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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