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Premier Li touts Afghanistan self-governance

Zhao Yinan and Zhang Yunbi
Updated: Nov 1,2014 2:23 PM

Premier Li Keqiang and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai chat ahead of the opening of the Fourth Ministerial Conference of the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan in Beijing on Oct 31. [Photo by Feng Yongbin/China Daily]

China has highlighted the importance of Afghan self-governance and aid for the country amid the withdrawal of Western forces.

The move came at a major conference in Beijing on Oct 31 as Premier Li Keqiang proposed a five-point plan to chart Afghanistan’s path to progress.

“Firm support for Afghanistan’s peaceful reconstruction should be seen in concrete action, not just verbal commitment,” he said.

In an address to the Fourth Ministerial Conference of the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan, Li also pledged to speed up reconstruction and explore all possible development paths for the country.

His five points stress the importance of self-governance, the promotion of political reconciliation, accelerating economic reconstruction, exploring development paths and strengthening external support for the country.

“The world should support the reconciliation strategy hammered out by the Afghan government and back the Afghan-led peace process,” Li said.

The international community should also respect Afghanistan’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and support the country’s efforts to realize security and stability, Li said.

He pledged to strengthen cooperation on infrastructure, agriculture, water conservation and mineral resources.

Beijing promised this week to step up its support for reconstruction in talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, who chose China for his first foreign visit since taking office in September.

China pledged to give its neighbor 2 billion yuan ($327 million) in assistance up to 2017, train 3,000 professionals in various fields and provide 500 scholarships.

The meeting on Oct 31, which attracted a wide international audience, is the first of its kind held in Beijing on Afghanistan.

Foreign ministers from 14 regional countries and 16 others, as well as representatives from 12 regional and international organizations, attended the meeting. It was part of the Istanbul Process launched in 2011 to provide a platform to discuss a range of issues related to Afghanistan.