TASS cited Zamir Kabulov, Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Second Asian Department, as telling Soloviev TV show as saying that the interests of Russia and China in the sphere of cooperation with Afghanistan do not clash.

“We are not competing with China there,” Kabulov emphasized.  According to him, China has a specific interest in Aynak, a large cooper deposit in eastern Afghanistan, which was discovered by Soviet geologists.

“The Chinese obtained a license for developing this field, while we did not lay claims to its resources for economic and pragmatic reasons," he explained.

"When our businesses, both state-owned and private ones, show an interest, the [Russian] Foreign Ministry will fulfil its task and promote these interests. Therefore, it is too early to speak about clashing interests between Moscow and Beijing," the Russian diplomat added.

Kabulov described China as Russia’s strategic ally as he said that Moscow would benefit from having Beijing rather than some Western countries as a player there.

The Mes Aynak mine is a large copper mine located in the east of Afghanistan in Logar Province.   Mes Aynak represents one of the largest copper reserves in Afghanistan and in the world having estimated reserves of 690 million tons of ore grading 1.65% copper.

The Mes Aynak mine is at the site of an ancient Buddhist city of the same name along the Silk Road.