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China Pledges to Play Active Role in Afghanistan Reconstruction
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Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said on Friday that China would further enhance its friendship with Afghanistan and that it was ready to provide assistance for the postwar economic and social reconstruction of the country.

On the sidelines of the fifth prime ministers' meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Chinese premier met with Ahmad Zia Massoud, first vice president of Afghanistan, which is an SCO observer.

In the meeting, Wen said China pledged to provide 80-million-yuan assistance (about US$10 million) to Afghanistan this year, and that China had offered zero-tariff privileges to 278 products from Afghanistan from July 1, 2006.

He said China supported Afghanistan's efforts in safeguarding its sovereignty and independence and hoped Afghanistan could finally realize peace and stability.

Massoud said the Afghan government and people had appreciated the aid provided by their Chinese friends over many years, and hoped China could participate in all areas of Afghanistan's reconstruction, especially in terms of increased investment in the fields of transportation and energy.

Massoud also hoped to strengthen cultural and education exchanges with China.

The SCO groups China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, with Pakistan, Mongolia, Iran and India holding observer status.

The Chinese premier on Friday also met with his Kyrgyzstan counterpart Felix Kulov on bilateral economic and trade issues. Kulov pledged to help create a favorable environment for their two countries' bilateral economic cooperation.

(Xinhua News Agency September 16, 2006)

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