Germany and UAE to jointly upgrade Afghan airport

Germany and the United Arab Emirates agreed Monday jointly to fund a project to upgrade a key airport in northern Afghanistan at Mazar-i-Sharif into a regional air transport hub, dpa reported.

The German Foreign Ministry said the total cost would be 35 million euros (47 million dollars).

UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan agreed on the project at a meeting with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

He was visiting Berlin accompanying the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who met with both Chancellor Angela Merkel and Steinmeier.

The German minister said the upgrading was a major project in Afghanistan's reconstruction with civilian benefits to the whole region as well as improving air traffic control in Afghan airspace.

Aides said the idea was brought up when Steinmeier visited Abu Dhabi last October.

Details of the project still have to be settled, but Germany expects construction to start this year under the supervision of Germany's federal reconstruction bank KfW.

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