Afghanistan ripe for Indian investments: Karzai
MUMBAI (PAN): President Hamid Karzai, currently on visit to India’s commercial capital Mumbai, said on Saturday his country was "ripe and ready" for Indian investments in mining and other sectors.
Addressing business leaders at the start of a trip aimed at attracting badly-needed investment in his war-ravaged country, Karzai said: "We'd like to welcome you with a red carpet, but you need to arrive at the red carpet."
Indian businesses should not feel shy when thinking about Afghanistan, where Chinese companies had made a lot of investment in exploiting the mineral reserves, the president told the gathering.
Anand Sharma, the Indian commerce minister, promised that his country would mull over developing Afghanistan’s infrastructure, including highways, power projects, the Chahbahar port and ensuring energy security.
Last year, a consortium -- headed by the Steel Authority of India -- won the right to develop a huge iron ore deposit in central Afghanistan and a six million tonnes steel plant, a project worth $11 billion.
Karzai will travel to New Delhi for holding talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and signing four pacts with the Indian government.
"The idea obviously is to encourage Indian business to look at Afghanistan as a destination for investments, for greater trade," said YK Sinha, India's additional secretary.
Referring to the June Delhi Investment Summit on Afghanistan, the first of its kind hosted by India, Sinha added: “There has been considerable follow-up since then. Obviously the intention is to try and attract Indian industry, Indian business to looking at Afghanistan as a destination for investments and trade."
While in Delhi, Karzai will be accorded a ceremonial welcome, with Indian President Pranab Mukherjee hosting a state banquet in his honour on Nov. 12. Karzai and Singh will then head delegation-level talks between the two governments.
Sinha said all issues -- regional, international and bilateral -- would come up for discussion, and that the Strategic Partnership Agreement between Afghanistan and India, signed in October last year, would be reviewed.
The president is also expected to deliver the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Memorial Lecture, organised by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations, in New Delhi on Nov 12, according to the Indian External Affairs Ministry.
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