China pledges asistance; 4 accords signed
KABUL (Pajhwok): During his first international trip, President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai on Tuesday won concrete aid pledges at talks with his Chinese counterpart in Beijing.
As Ghani began his four-day visit, China agreed to provide $81.8 million in grant assistance to the Afghan government for 2014 and a further 1.5 billion yuan in the next three years from 2015-2017.
A joint statement on strategic and cooperative partnership issued after the talks said Beijing would train 3,000 Afghan professionals in various fields over the next five years.
Ahmadzai met Chinese President Xi Jinping, who reaffirmed support for peaceful reconstruction of the war-ravaged country, according to the Presidential Palace in Kabul.
He said progress on major projects like the Aynak copper mine and the Amu Darya basin oil would be stepped up to help Afghanistan develop its economy and improve the lives of the people.
Ghani said Afghanistan saw China as a reliable strategic partner and admired Beijing’s stability and development. He believed China could help his country speed up its development.
On Friday, Ghani will participate the fourth ministerial meeting of the Heart of Asia/Istanbul Process, which was launched in November 2011 to boost regional cooperation for security in Afghanistan.
The host leader said China supported Afghanistan's endeavours for sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as the Afghan led peace and reconciliation process.
Ghani voiced willingness to cooperate with China in areas like oil, mining and infrastructure. Afghanistan welcomed Chinese investment and would try to ensure the safety of Chinese institutions and personnel, he assured.
Kabul also stoutly backed Beijing’s campaign against terrorism and would not allow the Afghan territory to be used for any activity against China, the president observed.
China and Afghanistan signed four agreements on Tuesday, including documents on expanding technical and commercial cooperation.
"That you have made a visit to China when not even one full month into your presidency, making China your first visit, fully embodies the high degree of emphasis you put on bilateral relations,” Xi told Ghani.
China's commitment to Afghan reconstruction since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001 has been $250 million and its security support has been limited to counter-narcotics training.
At the meeting, Ahmadzai made a pitch to Chinese firms to invest in his natural resource-rich country, touting the lucrative opportunities for investment in different sectors of the economy, particularly in the mining area.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Ahmadzai will attend the Foreign Ministerial Conference of the Istanbul Process in Beijing. Li and Ghani will address the meeting.
Foreign ministers or representatives from 14 member countries, 16 other nation, 12 international organisations will also attend the meeting.
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