Beijing hosts regional conference on Afghanistan

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

BEIJING (AP) — China is hosting an international conference on Afghanistan's security and reconstruction that highlights its growing role in the country as U.S. and NATO forces depart.

New Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai is headlining Friday's forum in Beijing known as the Istanbul Ministerial Process. The annual conference brings Afghanistan and China together with more than a dozen member nations and observers including the United States.

Regional economic powerhouse China said Wednesday it would provide $330 million in grants to Afghanistan along with professional training and scholarships for 3,500 Afghans over the next five years.

Beijing is keen to help develop Afghanistan's estimated $3 trillion in mineral wealth and wants a strong, stable government in Kabul to prevent unrest spilling over into its restive northwestern region of Xinjiang.