China to give Afghanistan US$10 million in aid

China this year will give Afghanistan some 80 million yuan (US$10 million; Ђ8 million) in aid, the government said Wednesday, as part of efforts to shore up relations with its war-ravaged neighbor. Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing announced the aid at a two-day conference on Afghanistan's future in London on Tuesday, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

China in 2002 pledged US$150 million in aid to Afghanistan spread over five years. Xinhua did not say whether the US$10 million was part of, or in addition to, that initial pledge. Following the removal of the Islamic Taliban militia, China moved quickly to establish strong relations with the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Beijing flew in planeloads of aid supplies and advisers and swiftly reopened its embassy in Kabul, which was closed during 1993 Afghan factional fighting.

At the London conference, envoys from nearly 70 nations and international bodies vowed to maintain their financial support for Afghanistan, which is still plagued by violence and poverty more than four years after the fall of the Taliban.

In addition to the aid, China will scrap tariffs on most Afghan exports in 2006 and will continue to support the Afghan government's anti-terror efforts and help train more Afghan defense and police officers, Li said, according to Xinhua.

Chinese industries have been encouraged to participate in reconstruction projects in Afghanistan and invest in such fields as infrastructure, electricity, mineral resources, and transportation, Xinhua said, reports the AP. I.L.

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