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Afghan ambassador calls for closer cooperation with China
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Afghanistan is willing to promote cooperation with China in the areas of the economy, culture and anti-terror, the ambassador of Afghanistan to China said Tuesday.

Afghanistan and China have huge potential for cooperation in the fields of agriculture, mining, energy and education, Sultan A. Baheen told Xinhua in an exclusive interview on the eve of Afghanistan's Independence Day.

"It is necessary for us to benefit from the opportunities," he said.

"We are happy to see China as our good neighbor and we should congratulate the Chinese government and people on their great achievements, especially in the past 20 years," the ambassador said.

China has high technologies and expertise, while Afghanistan has huge resources. Building joint ventures in Afghanistan can benefit both sides, he said.

Afghanistan has the world's best grapes and cotton. It was the world's largest raisin exporter, but the war has damaged the production, he said. "We hope the Chinese enterprises could invest in Afghanistan to help us rebuild factories and explore international markets."

The China Metallurgical Group Corp (CMGC) and China's top integrated copper producer Jiangxi Copper Co. started work in Logar Province in July to explore and develop the vast Aynak Copper Mine south of the capital Kabul. The project, with an investment of more than four billion US dollars, is the biggest foreign investment in Afghanistan's history.

"This is a new start in the cooperation," Baheen said. "We also have rich resources of iron, gas and water which we can jointly explore."

A feasibility study has been done for a dam on the Kokacha River in northern Afghanistan, provided a chance of investment. Besides, the country has 300 sunny days every year, which is a rich resource that people of both countries can benefit from after Chinese solar energy companies invest, he said.

Baheen said he will request China's Education Ministry for an increase in the quota of Afghan students allowed to study in China. "We need lots of people who can speak Chinese to learn China's technologies, but up to now only 30 Afghan students have studied in China," he said. "I will try to realize the goal in my term that 100 students can come to China every year."

The Afghan city of Herat and China's Shanghai formed a sistership in July, both cities shall make more steps toward more cooperation, he said.

"I also hope the Chinese enterprises can help us build an exhibition center in Kabul as soon as possible," he said.

When talking about the terrorist attacks in Kabul these days, Baheen said the attacks were "the signs of military weakness" of the terrorists.

Baheen said one of the strategies to counter terrorism is to develop the economy and increase people's living standards.

"We need more construction and support so that people can see the changes in their life. (We need) big projects in transportation, agriculture, energy and education," he said. "Prosperity brings peace."

(Xinhua News Agency August 19, 2009)

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