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Afghanistan Joins Neighbors in Adopting the “New Delhi Declaration

Following the recently held two-day Regional Economic Cooperation Conference (RECC) on Afghan Reconstruction on November 18-19 in New Delhi, India, a “New Delhi Declaration” was signed to bring stronger economic ties in the region.

President Hamid Karzai and Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh jointly opened the conference attended by key players in Afghanistan’s economic reconstruction including Pakistan, Iran, China, members of the G-8 group of industrialized nations, and donor agencies.

In his address, President Karzai said the tasks of reconstructing Afghanistan and restoring peace in the region remain largely unfinished. "To those of our partners who may be pondering their continued involvement in Afghanistan, I say the job is not over and the stakes are still very high." President Karzai appealed to leaders of the G-8 industrialized countries and donor agencies to renew their commitment to rebuilding Afghanistan. "I hope the conference will bring to Afghanistan what we so badly need: assistance, investment and lasting stability," he said.

The "New Delhi Declaration" urged Afghanistan’s neighboring countries to open up aviation and other facilities to make transportation easier in the area.

Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta said the declaration urges donor countries and international aid agencies to help Afghanistan become an "energy bridge" to supply fuel from the oil and gas-rich Central Asian region to south Asia's booming but energy-starved economies. "Work will be accelerated on a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan, Pakistan and India to develop a technically and commercially viable project," Minister Spanta said.

In addition, the “New Delhi Declaration” called for regional countries to work towards concluding or broadening existing preferential trading agreements, including preferential tariffs for Afghanistan. The participating countries agreed to revisit existing bilateral, trilateral and multilateral trade and transit conventions and agreements, select the most promising inter-regional routes, and prioritize investments accordingly. According to the document, "Afghanistan's development will continue to remain a central factor in assuring the growth, stability and prosperity of the region. Countries of the region will take practical steps in adopting the necessary policies in this direction.”

The Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA) in cooperation with key Indian business and trade associations discussed specific investment opportunities with significant regional relevance during the Regional Business Conference on Afghanistan (RBCA) held in conjunction with the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan on November 18.

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