China calls on world to support Afghanistan

Updated: 2011-11-04 08:07

By Zhao Shengnan (China Daily)

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Meeting maps out future for war-torn nation

BEIJING - Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin called on the international community to extend continued support and assistance to Afghanistan and reiterated China's steadfast support for the country's reconstruction process.

Speaking at an international conference in Istanbul, Turkey, aimed at mapping out the future of Afghanistan, Liu said that, as the rotating chair of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), China welcomes Afghanistan to participate in the group's activities.

"We are ready to conduct closer cooperation with other parties in the SCO in such security areas as drug control, counter-terrorism and border management," he said.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai told the conference on Wednesday that there would be no hope for peace without help from its neighbors to fight terrorism.

"Terrorist networks are by far the major threat to Afghanistan's security," Karzai said.

Representatives from 29 countries and aid agencies attended the Istanbul gathering, held almost 10 years after the Taliban militia were driven out of power in Kabul.

The Istanbul summit is intended to chart the way ahead for Afghanistan, with the NATO mission already locked into military drawdowns that are scheduled to bring all foreign combat troops home by 2014.

Karzai pressed Pakistan on Wednesday to help his country negotiate with the Taliban, but Islamabad denies that the Afghan Taliban's top leaders are based on its territory.

Liu Xiaoxue, an expert on South Asia at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Pakistan is also a victim of terrorism, and the international community should understand its complicated domestic situation.

Neighbors' support is a crucial vehicle to guarantee the stability of Afghanistan during and after the US and NATO's withdrawal, said Wang Baofu, an expert on terrorism at the PLA National Defense University, adding that Pakistan and Iran are the key countries in the region when it comes to guaranteeing Afghanistan's stability.

Despite Karzai's criticism of Pakistan, Afghanistan still needs Islamabad's help to fight terrorism, Wang said. "Other neighbors have bigger roles to play in terms of Afghanistan's reconstruction."

He said that China has been supporting Afghanistan's reconstruction under the UN's leadership, and is able to assist its development in fields including agriculture and energy.

The participation of Afghanistan in the SCO will benefit peace in Asia, but considering the nation's current instability, a decision on its SCO membership may take some time, said Wang Weihua, an expert on South Asia at Shanghai Institutes for International Studies.

"The top task for Afghanistan should be to restore stability. If it joins the SCO as a normal and stable country, China and other members will definitely welcome it," he said.

Xinhua contributed to this story.