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UN Manages Only Temporary Afghan Mission Rollover After U.S.-China Spat

China's Belt and Road Initiative features billions of dollars in infrastructure projects.
China's Belt and Road Initiative features billions of dollars in infrastructure projects.

The United Nations Security Council adopted a temporary six-month rollover of the UN mission in Afghanistan after a spat between the United States and China prevented a full resolution.

Council diplomats on March 15 said the United States objected to language in a resolution that urged strengthened regional economic cooperation involving Afghanistan, including through the "Belt and Road" initiative linking China to Europe, Africa, and other parts of Asia.

The full-year resolution in 2018 included the language, and the project was also mentioned in 2016 and 2017 resolutions.

Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, which includes massive projects such as airports and roads, has raised concerns by some in the West about Chinese expansionism.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence last year criticized China's global infrastructure drive, saying many of the projects are low quality and also saddle developing countries with loans they cannot afford.

Jonathan Cohen, the U.S. acting ambassador, told the Security Council that "China held the resolution hostage, and insisted on making it about Chinese national political priorities rather than the people of Afghanistan."

He added that Beijing's infrastructure-investment effort had "known problems s with corruption, debt distress, environmental damage, and lack of transparency."

China’s deputy ambassador, Wu Haitao, told the council that Cohen's comments were "at variance with facts and fraught with prejudice."

"This is an initiative of economic cooperation aimed at achieving common development and prosperity. It has nothing to do with geopolitics," Wu said.

With the disagreement, the Security Council was forced to adopt the temporary rollover of the UN mission there for six months instead of a year.

A U.S.-led coalition has been in Afghanistan since 2001 supporting the government in Kabul against Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and other militant groups.

With reporting by AP and AFP
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