US to help develop Afghan mining sector
"The development of this sector is the only way to help Afghanistan stand on its own feet," Minister of Mines Wahidullah Shahrani said.
Addressing a joint press conference with US Ambassador Karl Eikenberry in Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of northern Balkh province, the minister hinted at the establishment of a sulfur factory in Jawzjan province at a cost of $23 million to be provided by the World Bank.
After signing a contract with Shahrani, the US envoy said his country wanted long-term cooperation with Afghanistan in exploring its mine deposits. The US would provide $40 million as part of a long-tern project to develop and extract mines, Eikenberry added.
Shahrani said the power and fertiliser factory in Balkh would be renovated and expanded. The renovation is estimated to cost $45 million, which will be provided by the US Agency for International Development, USAID).
A new pipeline will be laid from Shiberghan to the factory and then to the industrial park in Mazar, he said, hoping the project would help increase the factory's production.
Eikenberry said he saw the need for more US military assistance to Afghanistan. On the peace process, he said, it was a golden chance for the Taliban to renounce violence.
He said the Afghan Taliban should lay down their arms after the death of Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan's northwestern garrison town of Abbottabad on May 2.
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