Azerbaijan, Baku, Sept. 4 / Trend T. Jafarov /
The army is engaged in ensuring security of foreign investments in Afghanistan. Currently, national forces carry out this process by 80 percent, Minister of Mines and Petroleum of the Republic of Afghanistan Wahidullah Shahrani said in an interview with Trend.
"Ensuring the security will fully pass from international to national forces by late 2014," the minister said. "We thank all NATO member states. They have been rendering technical and financial assistance to the Afghan National Army to improve combat capability for a long time."
As for the issue of guarantees for protecting the foreign investments, Shahrani stressed that up to now, different countries have made huge investments in Afghanistan.
"For example, China and India are among these countries," he added. "The amount of Indian investments in Afghanistan hits about $ 11 billion. Moreover, the companies from Canada, Great Britain, UAE and Turkey operate in the country. The Afghan government has committed to protect and ensure the safety of these investments. So far, there was no case that would disturb our partners."
Cooperation in oil and gas sphere
Afghanistan is very rich in various natural resources. A large part of this wealth is not used, including iron, copper, gold, such rare element as lithium, construction materials, marble and other mineral resources, Wahidullah Shahrani said.
"Six oil and gas deposits have been discovered in Afghanistan up to now," he stressed. "The work is still underway at some of these deposits. As an example, one can cite Amu Darya oil field. "China's CNPC is operating at this field and it has already begun exploiting it. Turkish Corporation TPAO and Dragon Oil company from the UAE will begin drilling exploratory wells in the Afghan-Tajik oil field, located in the north of Afghanistan soon. An international tender for drilling operations at the North Amu Darya largest gas field will be announced in two weeks."
"This issue was discussed with the Azerbaijani representatives at today's talks and Afghanistan invited Azerbaijani companies to participate in this tender," he added. "This mainly concerns the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR), which has great experience.
"SOCAR has broad financial and technical opportunities and we are interested in their using," he added.
"At present, the companies from China, the UAE and Turkey mainly invested in Afghanistan's oil and gas sector.
As for the issue of staff training, Shahrani said that many Afghan students got education in Azerbaijan in 1980s. Currently, most specialists of the Afghan Ministry of Mines and Petroleum are the graduates of the Azerbaijan State Oil Academy.
"Today, we have discussed this issue during the negotiations with the Azerbaijani counterparts," he added. "The Azerbaijani side has assured us that it is ready to accept students and specialists from Afghanistan and to educate them. The number of students will increase every year. We believe that our students will learn Azerbaijan's experience in oil and gas sphere."
Afghanistan to provide Azerbaijani investors with benefits
The Afghan government is ready to deliver benefits and create the necessary conditions for Azerbaijani investors in various areas, including mining, oil and gas, etc., Afghan Minister said.
"Afghanistan and Azerbaijan have historical and cultural similarities," he added. "Today Azerbaijan is a developed country in all spheres, especially in the oil and gas sector. It should be stressed that Afghanistan and Azerbaijan have ancient and close ties, as well as the fact that Azerbaijan is a developed country. So, Afghanistan intends to use the potential of Azerbaijan."
According to him, Afghan President Hamid Karzai visited Azerbaijan earlier.
"Very useful discussions were held with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev during this visit," he added. "Afterwards, the President ordered for significant actions to be taken to invest in order to assist Afghan people. Currently, Azerbaijani investors are building a refinery in the north of the country. Azerbaijani company AzMeCo is building the plant together with other investors."
Shahrani stressed that earlier the meetings and negotiations were held with the Azerbaijani investors.
"Azerbaijan intends to expand this plant," he added. "The talks on joint expanding of the refinery, the construction of a power station that will operate on gas, a cement plant and a fertilizer plant were held with Azerbaijani investors during the meetings."
"The issue of Azerbaijan's rendering technical support to Afghanistan for training employees of different companies in the country was discussed at the meeting held with Azerbaijani Minister of Industry and Energy and Minister of Economic Development," he said.
"The talks on the possibility of Azerbaijani investors' making investments in the investment market of Afghanistan with 30 million population were also held at the meetings," he added. "The products to be produced in Afghanistan using Azerbaijan's investments can be imported to the neighboring countries along with providing the Afghan market with necessary goods."
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