New Afghanistan president to visit China

Afghanistan's new President Ashraf Ghani will head to China next week for a three-day visit, his office said in a statement on Tuesday, his first trip abroad since being sworn in last month.

AFP| Updated: Oct 21, 2014, 20:40 PM IST

Kabul: Afghanistan's new President Ashraf Ghani will head to China next week for a three-day visit, his office said in a statement on Tuesday, his first trip abroad since being sworn in last month.

Ghani will be accompanied by a high ranking Afghan government delegation for his first overseas trip since he took office in late September following a prolonged political stand-off over the results of the fraud-tainted presidential election.

"On official invitation by the president of People's Republic of China Xi Jinping, president Ashraf Ghani along with a high ranking government delegation, will leave for Chinese capital Beijing next week," the statement said without specifying the date.

During his visit, the Afghan president will hold meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and other Chinese leaders and sign agreements on bilateral relations and cooperation between the two countries, the statement added.

China, which shares a 76 kilometre border with Afghanistan's far northeast, has a keen interest in Afghanistan's mineral resources and has already secured major oil and copper mining concessions in Afghanistan, which is believed to have more than USD 1 trillion worth of minerals.

The Asian giant is also increasingly seen as a key player in maintaining stability in Afghanistan, particularly after US troops pull out by the end of this year.

All NATO combat operations will finish by the end of 2014, with about 12,000 troops staying on into next year on a follow-up training and support mission.