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China not sending soldiers to Afghanistan
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08:32, March 25, 2009

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China will not send peacekeeping troops to Afghanistan but will dispatch two senior diplomats to international meetings to ease tensions there later this month, China's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

"We have clarified our stance on sending troops to Afghanistan," ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at a regular news briefing. "Except for peacekeeping operations with UN Security Council mandates, China will not send a single soldier abroad."

He also announced that Vice-Foreign Minister Song Tao will attend an international meeting on the Afghanistan issue in Moscow Friday under the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) framework. Song's colleague Vice-Foreign Minister Wu Dawei will attend another meeting on the issue in the Hague, the Netherlands, on March 31.

"This is the first time for the SCO to hold an international meeting on the Afghanistan issue. China attaches great importance to that," Qin said.The meeting will focus on fighting terrorism, drug smuggling and organized crime.

The remarks were made after North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members repeatedly invited Beijing to join military operations in Afghanistan. The requests include sending troops and opening an alternate logistics route into Afghanistan through western China to replace the main passageways traversing Pakistan.

Afghanistan is an observer country of the SCO. Founded in 2001, the SCO includes six members - China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

By People's Daily Online



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