China to fund base in Afghanistan

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China will fund construction of an Afghan counterterrorism base in Badakshan province to block cross-border infiltration of the ethnic Uyghur militants.

Fergana News Agency (FNA) has quoted Gen. Dawlat Waziri of the Afghan Defence Ministry as saying that China will provide financial support to build the base, whose precise location inside Badakshan, in northern Afghanistan, is yet to the determined.

Gen. Waziri said that the Chinese side would cover all material and technical expenses for this base — weaponry, uniforms for soldiers, military equipment and everything else necessary for its functioning.

The decision to build the facility was taken during last month’s visit to China by Afghan Defence Minister Tariq Shah Bahrami.

During his visit late last month, Mr. Bahrami met his Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan, and Xu Qiliang, Vice Chairman of China’s Central Military Commission.

According to China Military Online, a website affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), Gen. Xu said during his meeting with Mr. Barhami that China was willing to “strengthen pragmatic cooperation in areas of military exchange and anti-terrorism, and safeguard the security of the two countries and the region, making contributions to the development of China-Afghanistan strategic partnership of cooperation”.

FNA said that Mr. Bahrami and his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Chang Wanquan agreed that their counter-terrorism focus should not only be confined to Badakshan, but Afghanistan’s entire northern region.

Afghan analysts said that the largest group of Uyghur militants already resides in Badakhshan, from where they can rapidly shift to China. The Afghan Defence Minister’s visit follows the first meeting of the foreign ministers of China, Pakistan and Afghanistan last month. “China has been able to establish itself as honest broker in the eyes of the Afghans,” a source told The Hindu.

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