Wednesday, February 11, 2015 – Kabul—China has promised to help build a hydroelectric powerplant in Afghan border region, as well as road and rail links to Pakistan, in the latest sign it is taking a more active role in Afghanistan.
The assistance will include an unspecified amount of financing, an Afghan foreign ministryspokesman, Sirajul Haq Siraj, said on Tuesday, a day after senior Afghan, Chinese and Pakistani diplomats met in Kabul.
“China agreed to support relevant initiatives for projects including the Kunar hydropower plant and strengthening road and rail connections between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” ChineseForeign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing in Beijing.
The planned 1,500 megawatt dam on the Kunar River, was previously supported only by Pakistan, which could buy some of the electricity it generates.
In 2013, Pakistan said it would also build a motorway connecting the Pakistani city of Peshawar to Kabul, as well as a railway line from Chaman, on the Pakistani side of Afghanistan’s southeastern border to the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.
China’s involvement could speed up work on these projects, though major Chinese investments including a large copper mine and railway link near Kabul have been put on hold partly because of militant violence. Siraj said the amount of Chinese financing for the dam and other projects would be decided in later trilateral meetings.
At the meeting, the diplomats also discussed ways to bring Taliban militants to the negotiating table, following a Chinese proposal late last year for a “peace and reconciliation” forum.
“The three sides resolved to make concerted efforts in maintaining peace and stability in Afghanistan,” Pakistan said in a statement.
China has growing interests in Afghanistan, which offers a possible route to the sea from China’s landlocked west.—Reuters