European Union foreign policy Chief to visit Beijing to boost coordination on foreign affairs and security; Donor countries pledge $16B Afghan aid at Tokyo meet
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  • According to reports, European Union foreign policy Chief Catherine Ashton will visit Beijing on July 9 -10, 2012 for talks aimed at boosting coordination on foreign affairs and security. The third round of the high level EU-China Strategic Dialogue will see Ashton meet Premier Wen Jiabao, as well as State Councillor Dai Bingguo, who is in charge of foreign policy, and Defence Minister Liang Guanglie. The first Strategic Dialogue was attended by Ashton and Dai in September 2010 in the southwestern Chinese province of Guizhou. The second meeting was held in Hungary in May 2011. At the last EU-China summit, which was delayed from October 2011 to February 2012 because of the European sovereign debt crisis, China renewed its support for the euro. The third Strategic Dialogue will help prepare the ground for the next EU-China summit in Brussels in the autumn. The EU is the largest market for Chinese exporters, who are suffering the effects of the European economic crisis. After Beijing, Ashton will visit Hong Kong on July 11 before traveling to Cambodia for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional forum. 1

    In another development, according to reports, donor nations on July 8, 2012 pledged $16 billion for Afghanistan to prevent the country from sliding back into turmoil when foreign combat troops depart. A statement at the closing of a conference in Tokyo confirmed donors would stump up $16 billion in civilian aid through 2015, with the pledge expected to come with several pre-conditions including reforms to clamp down on corruption. Afghan President Hamid Karzai was in the Japanese capital along with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for a gathering focused on the “transformation decade” after the NATO drawdown. “In the initial stage of the transformation decade, the international community committed to providing over $16 billion through 2015, and sustaining support, through 2017, at or near levels of the past decade to respond to the fiscal gap estimated by the World Bank and the Afghan government,” the statement said.2