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Uzbekistan Vows to Discount $45M for Power Transmission Project in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: July 1, 2019)

The Prime Minister of Uzbekistan has promised to provide a discount of $45 million for a power transmission project in Afghanistan, the Office of Chief Executive said in a statement.

Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah on Monday met with the Prime Minister of Uzbekistan Abdulla Aripov in the northern province of Balkh where they inaugurated an exhibition of Uzbekistani products.

At the event, Abdullah thanked his Uzbek counterpart for their interest in trade and investment in Afghanistan.

He said the two countries had signed agreements and memorandum of understandings and now it is the time to cooperate and take practical steps in implementing them.

Abdullah further said that the trade volume between the two countries is good but added that the capacities are available for a high volume of trade.

He hoped that the two countries further enhance their economic cooperation.

“The government of Afghanistan is expecting to balance the level of import and export between the two countries. We are committed to creating more opportunities for Uzbek investors and we are expecting Uzbekistan to pave the ground for our investors as well,” Abdullah said.

On his turn, the Uzbek Prime Minister said that his country is interested to increase the economic relations between the two countries.

Aripov said that Uzbekistan is ready to facilitate and closely cooperate with Afghanistan in different sectors, including agriculture, trade, electricity, railway, and gas.

The Uzbek official added that the transmission of power line from Sarkhan area in Uzbekistan to Pul-e-Khomri city in Afghanistan which is almost 200 kilometers in length and it costs $110 million but his country is ready to provide a discount of $45 million for Afghanistan.

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Central bank seizes over $12 million from former govt officials

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(Last Updated On: September 16, 2021)

Afghanistan’s central bank said it had seized nearly $12.4 million in cash and gold from former high-ranking government officials, including former vice president Amrullah Saleh.

In a statement, the central bank said the money and gold had been kept in the houses of officials, although it did not yet know for what purpose.

Saleh’s whereabouts meanwhile are unknown.

In a separate statement, the bank urged Afghans to use the country’s local Afghani currency.

This comes amid growing concerns that the country’s banks and firms are running short of money, especially dollars, which are widely used.

In a sign that the Islamic Emirate are looking to recoup assets belonging to former government officials, the central bank issued a circular to local banks last week asking them to freeze the accounts of politically exposed individuals linked to the previous government.

But on Wednesday, reports emerged that Afghanistan’s banks are running out of dollars, and may have to close their doors to customers unless the government releases funds soon.

Three people with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters that the cash squeeze threatens to upend the country’s already battered economy, largely dependent on hundreds of millions of dollars shipped by the United States to the central bank in Kabul that make their way to Afghans through banks.

Although the cash crunch has lasted weeks, the country’s banks have in recent days repeatedly underlined their concerns to the new government and central bank, two of the people said.

Banks have already pared back services and imposed weekly $200 payout limits, with long queues outside branches as people try to get hold of dollars.

But in a statement on its website on Wednesday, the central bank’s acting governor said banks were stable.

“The banks are completely secure,” he said, adding that commercial banks usually kept 10% of their capital as cash and that those in Afghanistan, on average, held 50% as cash.

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Efforts underway to reopen Torkham and Spin Boldak border crossings

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(Last Updated On: September 15, 2021)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s Acting Foreign Minister Mawlavi Amir Khan Mottaqi met with Pakistani Ambassador to Kabul Mansoor Ahmad Khan on Tuesday to discuss challenges at the country’s border crossings.

Suhail Shaheen, the spokesman for the Islamic Emirate’s political office in Doha, said the meeting focused on the people’s challenges at the Torkham and Spin Boldak crossings.

According to Shaheen, Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan has assured the Islamic Emirate that the crossings will soon be reopened to Afghans and all challenges will be resolved.

Pakistan closed the Torkham crossing to Afghan travelers, and traffic continued intermittently through Spin Boldak after the Islamic Emirate’s takeover of Afghanistan last month.

Thousands of Afghans are however currently waiting to cross into Pakistan at these crossings.

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China’s Jiangxi Copper to develop Mes Aynak when situation allows

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(Last Updated On: September 14, 2021)

Members of the Islamic Emirate were seen on Monday touring the Mes Aynak copper mine, which two Chinese companies had been developing.

China’s Jiangxi Copper Co Ltd said that it and the Metallurgical Corp of China (MCC) were monitoring the situation in Afghanistan and would push forward with the development of the Mes Aynak copper mine when they could.

Logar governor, Mohammad Ali Jan said that “now that the Islamic Emirate is ruling, this is our only and first visit to here, after this the Islamic Emirate and the company’s technical people will work on it together. As we know from history, this is a huge mine in Afghanistan and it is the nation’s great wealth.”

Construction of the mine until now has not been substantial due to the unstable situation in Afghanistan, said Zheng Gaoqing, the chairman of Jiangxi Copper, at an online briefing.

Jiangxi Copper and MCC took on a 30-year lease for the mine in 2008, which has an estimated reserve of 11.08 million tonnes of copper. Jiangxi Copper holds a 25% stake in the project.

Mes Aynak, about 40 km southeast of Kabul, is also the site of ancient Buddhist ruins.

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