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China Promises Karzai $150 Million Aid - 2002-01-24

China has promised Afghanistan's visiting interim leader 150 million dollars to help rebuild the country after decades of war. Hamid Karzai wrapped up a two day visit.

The meeting between Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai appeared cordial as the two men exchanged smiles and handshakes in Beijing Thursday.

After their talks, China's official Xinhua news agency said Beijing would give Afghanistan $150 million in reconstruction aid. That is on top of several million dollars in aid previously promised by Beijing, and the $4.5 billion pledged at this week's international donors conference in Tokyo.

During a tour of China's historic Great Wall near the capital, Mr. Karzai said his devastated country will use the money to restore basic services. "Security, education, health, road building - a very, very visible activity road building. On top of that should come the revitalization of the administration, the government to become functional again," Mr. Karzai said.

Other Afghan officials say the international community "did its duty" by pledging billions of dollars worth of aid, and it is now up the Afghans to see that the money is spent properly and efficiently.

Wednesday Mr. Karzai and his foreign minister gave Beijing assurances his country will no longer be a haven for terrorists. China has particular concerns that Afghanistan's once-flourishing al-Qaida network was exporting terrorism across the border to Muslim separatists in Xinjiang Province, China.

Chinese officials say they hope a rebuilt Afghanistan will be a neutral, peaceful nation that does not trouble its neighbors.