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Karzai heads to China to meet Xi
September 25, 2013, 9:10 am

An archaeological dig located at the world's second-biggest unexploited copper mine in Kabul, Afghanistan. [AP]

China’s state-owned firms have invested heavily in oilfields and copper mines in Afghanistan [AP]

Afghan President Hamid Karzai left Kabul on Wednesday morning for a four-day visit to China.

The Afghan leader will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and other Chinese officials during his trip.

Beijing has stepped up its business and corporate presence in Afghanistan in recent years.

“Afghan President Hamid Karzai, leading a high-level delegation, left this morning to China for an official visit which is at the official invitation of his Chinese counterpart,” said a statement from the country’s Presidential Palace.

The leaders of the two nations will discuss a range of issues, including enhancing political, military, economic and cultural relations besides discussing the regional situation, the statement added.

“Our relationship with friend and neighbour country of the People’s Republic of China is in the framework of the Strategic Partnership between the two countries, and Afghanistan wants to further enhance ties with China,” Afghanistan’s Chief Presidential Spokesman Eimal Faizi said on Tuesday.

Beijing is concerned about a possible spillover of volatility in the region once NATO forces leave and pass the responsibility for Afghan stability and security to local forces.

China’s state-owned firms have invested heavily in oilfields and copper mines in Afghanistan.

China Metallurgical Group Corp signed a $3 billion contract with the Afghan Ministry of Mines and Petroleum in 2007 to mine copper in the Logar Province, in what is billed as the biggest foreign investment in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, during his visit, Karzai will also attend the opening ceremony of the Euro-Asia Economic Forum (EAEF) 2013 where he will deliver a speech.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during a talk at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC last week that China is concerned about the “growth of violent militancy in the region”.

“Afghanistan is now in a phase of crucial transition. Whether the country can proceed smoothly with domestic reconciliation and reconstruction concerns the common interests of China, the US and other countries in the region,” Wang said.

Afghan National Security Advisor Rangin Dadfar Spanta and the Minister of Mines and Petroleum Wahidullah Shahrani will accompany President Karzai during the visit, according to the official statement.

During the visit Afghan authorities will also sign two MoU’s (Memorandum of Understanding), including providing financial assistance to Afghanistan and a cooperation agreement between Kabul and Xi’an University of China, according to a separate statement posted on the Afghan presidential website.

Currently over a hundred Afghan security officers are receiving training in China and the figure is expected to reach to 250 by 2015, said the statement.

With inputs from Agencies