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Afghanistan, China Pledge Long-Term Partnership


Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (left) and China's President Xi Jinping wave to students during a welcoming ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing on October 28.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (left) and China's President Xi Jinping wave to students during a welcoming ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing on October 28.

Afghanistan and China pledged a new long-term partnership with each other as the new Afghan President Ashraf Ghani began an official visit to Beijing on October 28.

"We look at China as a strategic partner," Ghani told his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping during a meeting at Beijing's Great Hall of the People.

Xi said he was prepared to work towards "a new era of cooperation in China-Afghanistan relations" to "take development to a new depth and breadth."

China is a key investor in Afghanistan, which has an estimated $1 trillion worth of mineral resources, and has secured major oil and copper mining deals there.

Afghanistan and China share a 76-kilometer border between the remote, mountainous Wakhan Corridor and China's far western Xinjiang region.

Ghani took office in September after a lengthy election dispute.

His first trip abroad was a religious pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia on October 25.

Last British Combat Troops Leave

Meanwhile, back in Afghanistan, Britain's defense ministry says the last of its combat troops have left the country's Helmand province, ending a 13-year conflict in which more than 450 British soldiers were killed.

The Ministry of Defense says the final troops left Camp Bastion in helicopters and transport planes on October 27, a day after the base was handed over to Afghan forces.

At the peak of the deployment there were more than 10,000 British personnel in Afghanistan, most in Helmand, a Taliban stronghold.

Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said on October 27 that the British forces "leave with our heads held high."

But some analysts warn that a lack of strategic foresight means the British have left with their mission uncompleted.

Chief among the concerns is the growing menace of opium production, which helps sustain the Taliban insurgency.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP
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