SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)- China is hosting an international conference on Afghanistan’s security and reconstruction as US-led foreign forces prepare to leave the war-torn country by the end of this year.
The annual event, known as the Ministerial Conference of the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan, kicked off in the Chinese capital Beijing on Friday and is headed by newly elected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
The conference brings Afghanistan and China together with over a dozen member states and observers, including Iran and the United States.
During the event, the Afghan president called on the country’s opposition and even the Taliban militant group to join a peace process and “enter Afghan dialogue.”
Ghani also urged Kabul’s international partners to support an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.
Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang also said the international community should respect Kabul’s “sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity” and avoid interfering “with its internal affairs and support Afghanistan’s efforts to realize security and stability.”
Earlier this week, China said it would provide USD 330 million in grants, along with professional training, and some 3,500 scholarships to help Afghanistan over the next five years.
Beijing is a major investor in Afghanistan. Kabul enjoys an estimated USD 1 trillion worth of mineral resources.
China shares a 76-kilometer border with Afghanistan’s remote, mountainous Wakhan Corridor along its far western Xinjiang region.
Kabul has been dealing with ongoing violence since the United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The unrest continues despite the removal of the Taliban from power.