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China to Write off Huge Afghan Debt

The Chinese government has decided to write off a US$18-million debt that the Afghan government owes to it, a Chinese envoy said in Kabul Saturday.


"This is a friendly gesture from the Chinese government and the Chinese people," Chinese ambassador Sun Yuxi said at a joint press conference held with Afghan Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani.


According to the Chinese envoy, the Chinese government and the Afghan transitional government have reached an agreement to write off a debt totaling 10 million British pounds (about US$18 million) that the then Afghan government borrowed in 1965.


"This is also significant for our further financial assistances," the Chinese top diplomat said. "We conclude the old debt, and so we can continue to have new commercial and financial relations between us."


Sun Yuxi also disclosed that at the forthcoming Berlin Conference, the Chinese government will announce new plans to provide the Afghan authorities with more aids. Right now, Chinese engineers and workers are working on two major assistance programs: rebuilding a major hospital in the capital of Kabul and building an irrigation system in Parwan Province to the north of Kabul.


China and Afghanistan established diplomatic relations in 1955. After the founding of the Afghan transitional government in late 2001, China was the first country to announce a huge assistance program, which totals US$150 million.


(Xinhua News Agency March 28, 2004)

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