Top Chinese official visits Afghanistan in a rare visit
Beijing: A top Chinese security official has made a surprise visit to Afghanistan, the first leader from the country to do so in nearly half a century.
Zhou Yongkang, a member of the Standing Committee of the nine member Political Bureau of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, arrived at Kabul on Saturday.
In Kabul, Zhou held a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
"It is in line with the fundamental interests of China and Afghanistan to strengthen a strategic and cooperative partnership, which is also conducive to regional peace, stability and development," Zhou was quoted as saying in a written statement released by the Chinese delegation upon his arrival.
Zhou said the Chinese government fully respects the right of the Afghan people to choose their own path of development and will actively participate in Afghanistan`s reconstruction.
The four-hour visit had not been announced by Beijing due to security concerns, state run Xinhua news agency reported.
It followed a two-day trip of Zhou to Singapore, where he met Singaporean leaders on bilateral ties.
It marked the first time in 46 years that a Chinese leader set his foot on the soil of Afghanistan, a war-torn country neighboring China.
The last visit was made by late Chinese leader Liu Shaoqi in 1966 when he was the President of China.
China and Afghanistan established diplomatic relations in 1955.
Zhou`s visit considered significant as China, a close ally of Pakistan look to make strong investments in the Afghanistan to build its strategic interests there.
The two countries decided in June to upgrade their ties to the level of a strategic and cooperative partnership at a meeting between Chinese President Hu Jintao and Karzai in Beijing, marking a new step for the development of bilateral relations.
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