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Chinese, Afghan Foreign Ministers Hold Talks

Visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan and his Afghan counterpart, Abdullah Abdullah, on Wednesday discussed bilateral ties, the Afghan situation and exchanged views on international and regional issues of common concern.

Tang said the formation of the Afghan Interim Government has provided the two countries with an opportunity to develop friendship. He voiced China's support to the interim government and its readiness to push forward good-neighborly relations with Afghanistan on the basis of the five principles of peaceful coexistence.

As a neighbor, Tang said, China has been closely watching the development of the situation in Afghanistan. China sincerely hopes that leaders of all parties in Afghanistan could seize today's great opportunity and work for national reconciliation and social stability with the help of the international community, he said.

The Chinese foreign minister asked the international community to translate their promises into action in terms of assistance to Afghanistan. He said China pays attention not only to the peace process in Afghanistan, but also to its reconstruction. China has honored its assistance commitment of one million US dollars and goods worth 30 million RMB yuan (US$3.6 million).

Tang said China has agreed to send teams to study the refurbishment of previous assistance projects in Kabul, Parwan and Kandahar once security situation permits. It has also agreed to fulfill as soon as possible its pledges to provide Afghanistan with police uniforms and stationery and office supplies. Tang said China would seriously study other needs of Afghanistan as well.

He said Chinese businesses are ready for economic and technological cooperation with Afghanistan in various ways and on various levels.

At the request of the Afghan side, China has also agreed to resume consular and visa services in Afghanistan as soon as possible to facilitate exchanges between the two countries.

During the talks, Tang also explained his country's Asia policy. He stressed that China's priority is to expand friendship with its Asian neighbors, safeguard security and stability and promote development and cooperation in the region. Peace and cooperation are also the goal of China's South Asia policy, he said.

Abdullah said he was looking forward to Tang's visit. He thanked China for its assistance, describing China as Afghanistan' s only neighbor that has not hurt the country. China's contributions to peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan have shown that China is a great country in the world, he said.

He said Afghanistan would work with China to carry out cooperation projects and explore new areas of cooperation. With the help of China, Afghanistan will definitely overcome the difficulties and embark on the road to peace, stability and development, Abdullah stated.

Abdullah said that Afghanistan's focus at home is peace and reconstruction and the priority of its foreign policy is to promote friendship with its neighbors and fight terrorism together with the international community.

Tang appreciated Afghanistan's firm stance on the fight against terrorism and expressed the hope that the two countries can enhance cooperation in this regard.

The two foreign ministers also exchanged views on cooperation in drug control. Tang said China is ready to provide agricultural technologies to help Afghan poppy growers to opt for other crops.

After the talks, Tang and Abdullah witnessed the signing of three documents, including an agreement on economic and technological cooperation between the two countries.

Later in the afternoon, Tang visited Jamhuriat Hospital, for which China has provided medical equipment.

Tang, who arrived in Kabul on Wednesday morning, had met with interim leader Hamid Karzai earlier in the day.

(China Daily May 16, 2002)

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