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China, Afghanistan Sign Deals to Strengthen Cooperation
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China and Afghanistan signed 12 agreements in Beijing on Tuesday during Afghan President Hamid Karzai's China visit, pledging to strengthen bilateral security and economic cooperation.


The agreements, according to a joint statement, covered political cooperation, security matters, a military training program, a campaign against cross-border crime, economic and trade cooperation, investment, tariffs, aviation, agriculture, and cultural heritage protection.


China would support Afghanistan in fighting terrorism and maintaining stability, and jointly combat the "three evil forces" of separatism, extremism and terrorism, as well as organized crime, illegal migration, and drugs and weapons trafficking, the statement said.


The two governments agreed to establish a China-Afghanistan Joint Economic and Trade Committee to boost cooperation in infrastructure construction, including natural resource development, power generation and roads.


To encourage Afghanistan's exports to China, the Chinese government would grant zero-tariff treatment to 278 Afghan export items as of July 1.


"The two sides will continue to explore new channels and ways to expand and deepen trade and economic cooperation," the statement said.


China also promised to offer training for 200 Afghan professionals in the next two years and would give 30 government scholarships to Afghanistan annually from 2007 to support its national reconstruction.


The Chinese government reiterated that it would continue to support and take an active part in Afghanistan's economic reconstruction, announcing that it would provide Afghanistan with another 80 million yuan (US$10 million) gratis this year.


The two countries pledged to enhance cooperation within some regional organizations such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).


"The Chinese side appreciated the efforts of the Afghan side in promoting regional cooperation and welcomed Afghanistan's relationship with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization within the context of Contact Group Protocol and is ready to enter into cooperation in pragmatic terms with the Afghan side within the framework of regional cooperation," said the statement.


Afghanistan reiterated its adherence to the one-China policy in the statement, stressing Taiwan was an inalienable part of China.


"The Afghan side expressed support for China's efforts in safeguarding sovereignty and territorial integrity and its opposition to any attempt by the Taiwan authorities to create 'two Chinas,' 'one China, one Taiwan' or 'Taiwan independence,' including 'de jure Taiwan independence,'" the statement said.


(Xinhua News Agency June 21, 2006)

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