Convergence of interest with China: US
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): Describing Afghanistan as a positive part of the US-China relationship, Obama administration officials on Thursday said there had been increasing convergence of interest between the two countries on the issue.
“Afghanistan is a very positive part of the US-China relationship. The two countries share common interest in having a stable and prosperous country,” a senior official said ahead of the “Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference” taking place in Beijing on Friday.
“Over the last few years there has been increased convergence of interest between US and China on Afghanistan,” the official said, as President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai is on his maiden presidential trip to China.
In the last few years, the official said, the US and China had gone from a narrow discussion on Afghanistan to a much broader and deeper engagement. “Afghanistan is an agreed area of cooperation with China and not one of competition.”
Counselor to President John Podesta will lead a delegation to the ‘Heart of Asia’ Conference to discuss efforts in the region to expand political, security and economic support for Afghanistan, the State Department said.
The US delegation includes senior officials from the National Security Council, US Department of State, and US Agency for International Development.
“Following Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns’ attendance as Head of Delegation in 2011, 2012, and 2013, this high-level delegation demonstrates continued U.S. commitment to Afghanistan and regional stability,” the State Department said in its media note.
The ‘Heart of Asia’ Conference is the only process, where Afghanistan is central to and part of discussions. Dozens of ministers from the regional countries including Pakistan and Iran and President Ahmadzai himself will be attending the event.
The official said there was a unique opportunity between Afghanistan and Pakistan to improve their own relationship and unlock the potential of their bilateral ties.
Responding to questions, the official said it was critical for Pakistan to ensure that safe havens inside its territory did not operate against Afghanistan.
“We welcome China’s role in Afghanistan,” the official said, adding that the economic one was of particular importance and where China had a significant amount to offer.
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