US officials on China, India’s role in Afghanistan

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KABUL (TCA) — Ambassador Alice Wells, with the US State Department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, said in a discussion at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC on November 21 that “China has not been a real player in Afghanistan development” and “is not a provider of any significant grant assistance.” She said that neighboring Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have done much more to aid Afghanistan with “regional connectivity initiatives” such as cross-border railways, electricity lines and trade exchange, Afghan broadcaster TOLOnews reported.

However, Wells acknowledged that China can play an important role in the peace process: “Right now I would say I see opportunities for the United States and China to be important partners in reinforcing the need for a negotiated political settlement, and you see Ambassador Khalilzad regularly consulting with his Chinese counterpart, among other regional actors.”

Wells also spoke about the US relationship with Pakistan, saying as “Pakistan takes steps to move away and to restrict the ability of non-state terrorist proxies, the potential for our relationship to grow ever-deeper is there.”

These comments come as China is scheduled to host an Afghan peace settlement meeting. The meeting was scheduled to take place last month but was delayed for some reason.

The Afghan government says it has set up a delegation list to attend the meeting, but meeting time has not been announced yet.

In other news, the United States said it supports India’s continued involvement in Afghanistan, including its “substantial” investment and aid to the war-ravaged country, RFE/RL reported.

“The United States welcomes India’s substantial investment in and assistance to Afghanistan,” Nancy Izzo Jackson, a State Department official in charge of Afghanistan, told a conference in Washington on November 21.

“And we will continue to support efforts to achieve an honorable and enduring outcome in Afghanistan that preserves our investment in Afghanistan’s future,” she told the gathering focusing on New Delhi’s role in Afghanistan.

India has been active in its support of the Kabul government since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion that drove the Taliban from power, contributing some $3 billion in the past 18 years and building Afghanistan’s new parliament building.

Sergey Kwan

TCA