US wants China to play bigger role in Pak, Afghan

Seeking to strike common ground with China on key matters related to South Asia, the US has said it wants Beijing to "coordinate more" with its efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan to "disrupt, dismantle and defeat" al-Qaeda.

Beijing: Seeking to strike common ground
with China on key matters related to South Asia, the US has
said it wants Beijing to "coordinate more" with its efforts in
Afghanistan and Pakistan to "disrupt, dismantle and defeat"
al-Qaeda.

Blake,
who held talks with his Chinese counterparts on a host of
issues concerning South Asia, said Washington wants Beijing to
"coordinate more" with its efforts in Afghanistan and
Pakistan.

"Washington`s highest strategic priorities is to help
Afghanistan and Pakistan to disrupt, dismantle and defeat
Al-Qaeda and its affiliates entrenched along the two
countries` border," Blake said.

"This is an interest that China shares with the US and
Pakistan. So we discussed ways that China can coordinate and
contribute to international efforts in these two countries,"
he added.

The talks were part of preparatory meetings ahead of
the Sino-US strategic dialogue beginning on May 23 to be
attended among others by US Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton.

The issues discussed during Blake`s talks with China
apparently included those relating to India as well as Chinese
plans to build two nuclear reactors for Pakistan.

"The purpose of the dialogue is to have a wide-ranging
dialogue on all of the issues in South Asia - not just
Afghanistan or Pakistan, but also India, the situation in
Nepal, and the situation in Sri Lanka," official media quoted
Blake as saying.

The two sides also discussed US President Barack
Obama`s s plan to begin the withdrawal of US troops from
Afghanistan beginning in July 2011, he said.

"We assured China that we are certainly not going to
withdraw our forces precipitously," Blake said, adding that
the timing of withdrawal would depend on the security
situation on the ground and the ability of internationally
trained Afghan security forces to handle that situation.

Blake, who discussed the South Asian situation with
scholars and officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
said: "China has an important stake in the success of these
(international) efforts. And we welcome the opportunity to
discuss ways China can contribute more both through
investments and through assistance of various kinds."

Reacting to Blake`s comments, a Chinese political
analyst Hu Shisheng, who is a senior scholar of South Asia
studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International
Relations, said China should take cue from India to step up
humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.

Hu said China which has done a lot in Afghanistan can
do more in reconstruction, and pointed to India as an example,
state run China Daily reported.

"The US hopes China to be as deeply involved as it
can. It`s in accordance with Obama`s strategy, which seeks to
involve regional powers in Afghanistan," he said.

Hu, who had a discussion with Blake on Monday, said
the US official suggested that Beijing provide more aid in
agriculture, education and training of officials.

"He (Blake) also noted that China and the US are yet
to set up a regular information exchange mechanism on
Afghanistan," Hu added.

China has been active in the reconstruction of
Afghanistan since the US invasion in 2001 following the 9/11
terror attacks.

China Metallurgical Group Corp and China`s top
integrated copper producer, Jiangxi Copper Corporation, in
July started a project in Logar, a province southeast of
Kabul, to explore the vast Aynak copper mines.

The USD 4 billion investment is the biggest in
Afghanistan`s history.

China has also helped Afghanistan train dozens of
minesweepers over the past year.

In late March when Afghan President Hamid Karzai paid a
state visit to China, Beijing signed three deals with Kabul
which cover economic cooperation, technical training and the
granting of preferential tariffs for Afghan exports.

Despite these efforts, Hu said China can do more in
reconstruction.

"China should actively contribute to helping
Afghanistan with people`s livelihood, economic growth and
social stability," Hu said, noting it is in China`s interests
to do so.

PTI