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China Tells Karzai Aid Is on Way

January 24, 2002|From Times Wire Services

BEIJING — Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji told interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai on Wednesday that China would do what it could to help rebuild its war-torn neighbor, where instability and a growing U.S. presence have made Beijing uneasy.

Prime Minister Karzai arrived in Beijing from Tokyo, where international donors had promised $4.5 billion in aid. Afghan and Chinese foreign ministers signed agreements on Beijing's own modest aid package.

"The Chinese government has followed with a great interest the peace and reconstruction process in Afghanistan. Our two countries are neighbors to each other, although our border is a short one," Zhu said.

China offered $1 million for rebuilding Afghanistan in addition to $3.6 million in humanitarian aid due to arrive soon.

Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah, who was accompanying Karzai, said he was optimistic that Chinese President Jiang Zemin would offer more pledges of aid when he meets Karzai today.

Abdullah, backing Beijing's claims, said he had "no doubt" that Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network had links with militants accused of terrorism in the Muslim region of Xinjiang in western China.

He did not rule out the possibility that the Afghan government might repatriate any captured suspected Chinese terrorists to face justice at home.

Although Washington has rebuffed a connection, China has tried to portray opponents of Chinese rule in Xinjiang as part of the global terror threat being fought by the U.S.-led coalition.

China's leaders were likely to ask Karzai about Afghanistan's position on the U.S. military presence in his country, a Western diplomat said.

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