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China and Afghanistan sign security and economic agreements

The moves by China to increase its influence come as NATO troops prepare to withdraw most of their combat forces from Afghanistan by 2014.

China afghanistan security economic agreements september 2012Enlarge
Afghan National Police personnel stand in formation during a graduation ceremony at a police training center in Herat on September 6, 2012. China and Afghanistan have signed a series of economic and security agreements, including one which would send 300 Afghan police officers to China for training. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

China and Afghanistan signed several security and economic agreements, as top Chinese security official Zhou Yongkang visited Kabul this weekend.

The BBC noted that Zhou, China's domestic security chief, is the most senior official to visit Afghanistan in almost 50 years.

Zhou, who met with President Hamid Karzai on Saturday, said China "will actively participate in Afghanistan's reconstruction," according to Bloomberg. His visit was not made public before it happened due to security concerns, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported.

"It is in line with the fundamental interests of the two peoples for China and Afghanistan to strengthen a strategic and cooperative partnership which is also conducive to regional peace, stability and development," said Zhou in a statement, according to Reuters, which cited Xinhua.

China wants to invest more in Afghanistan's resources sector, the BBC noted.

The state-owned company China Metallurgical Group operates a $3 billion copper mine in the eastern Logar province, Reuters said. The mine has been hit by rocket attacks and raids from insurgent groups.

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One of the agreements also involves 300 Afghan police officers being sent to China for training, according to an Afghan foreign ministry official cited by the BBC.

In June, the two countries upgraded the status of their ties to a strategic and cooperative partnership at a regional conference in Beijing.

The moves by China to increase its influence come as NATO troops prepare to withdraw most of their combat forces from Afghanistan by 2014.

Wang Lian, a professor with the School of International Studies at the Peking University in Beijing, told Bloomberg, "Afghanistan is vital for China to maintain development and stability in China’s northwestern regions — that’s the foremost strategic meaning of Afghanistan for China."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/afghanistan/120924/china-and-afghanistan-sign-security-and-econom