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Kabul, Beijing sign key economic, security deals

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KABUL (PAN): Afghanistan and China inked a range of security and economic agreements, including the joint declaration on bilateral strategic cooperation, during a visit to Kabul by a top Chinese official on Sunday.

The pacts, including one about sending around 300 Afghan police officers to China for training over the next four years, were signed between Afghan and Chinese officials after the Chinese delegation led by Zhou Yongkang, China's domestic security chief, held talks with President Hamid Karzai, the president’s office said in a statement.

It was for the first time in nearly 50 years that a senior Chinese official has visited Afghanistan. The last senior Chinese official to visit Afghanistan was President Liu Shaoqi, in 1966.

Beijing has stepped up diplomacy with Kabul in recent months as the deadline for the withdrawal of US and NATO forces draws nearer.

In June, Karzai pledged to work with China to fight terrorism and extremism in the region during a visit to Beijing, where he attended the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation meeting.

The Karzai office said both sides conferred on implementation of an action plan for the Afghanistan-China strategic delectation.

Karzai thanked the visiting delegation for China’s assistance and cooperation with the people and government of Afghanistan over the past one decade. “We are looking forward to a broader and strong cooperation with China,” the statement quoted Karzai as saying.

Karzai said Afghanistan wanted good relations with all regional countries, particularly with China for being a good and honest ally. “Security of the region is linked to cooperation and good relations among regional countries and we have to work together to overcome common challenges,” the president said.

Zhou said they visited Afghanistan to implement the decision made between Karzai and his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao during Karzai’s trip to China in June. “China wants the lives of Afghans improved and relations with Afghanistan increased,” he announced.

On China’s willingness to invest in Afghanistan, Zhou hoped many Chinese investors would come to Afghanistan for investment in different sectors. He said China wanted to increase investments in Afghanistan's resources sector.

After the meeting, the Chinese delegation signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on an “action plan” for the implementation of a bilateral strategic declaration and two other agreements on security and economic cooperation with Afghan officials.

Presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi said the agreements would help boost relations between the two countries in areas of economy and security.

Faizi said talks between the two sides were fruitful and encouraging as they discussed issues concerning regional political situation, bilateral trade and efforts at improving security and justice system in Afghanistan, in addition to regional and international matters.

China has been investing in Afghanistan's mineral sector for several years, as it searches for mineral resources in different parts of the world.

A Chinese state-owned mining company has invested in a copper mine in the eastern province of Logar, although work to excavate a 7th-Century Buddhist site has slowed work on the mine. Last year, China also won approval for oil exploration and extraction in the Amu Darya river basin. The new agreements included two on cooperation in different security and economic spheres.

The agreement on action plan for implementation of the joint strategic statement was signed by Jawed Ludin, deputy minister for political affairs at the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese ambassador to Afghanistan. 

The agreement on technical-economic spheres valued at 150 million Yuhan was signed by Anwarul Haq Ahadi the Afghan Minister of Commerce and Industries and deputy minister of foreign affairs of China. 

And the deal on assistance for completion of police equipment was signed by Afghan deputy minister of interior and deputy Chinese minister of public security.

Second vice-president Mohammad Karim Khalili, National Security Advisor Dr. Rangeen Dadfar Spanta, Justice Minister Habibullah Ghalib, Commerce and Industries Minister Anwarulhaq Ahadi,  General Director of National Security Assadullah Khalid and other high ranking Afghan officials were present on the occasion.

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