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First international fibre optic cable from Afganistan

For the first time, Afghanistan has a project of international fibre optic cable that will open doors to a new age of business. The country will be connect Central Asia to Southeast Asia through an underground cable.

The link would transform Afghanistan into a regional hub for Internet, telephone, television and other services.

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Afghanistan to Receive $40 Million for Elections

The current global economic crisis has many countries developing new ways to save money, but fortunately for the government of Afghanistan, that does not mean that they are refraining from continuing their financial support of their elections.

The current global economic crisis has many countries developing new ways to save money, but fortunately for the government of Afghanistan, that does not mean that they are refraining from continuing their financial support of their elections. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced on Monday that the U.S. Government will commit $40 million to aiding the elections that are to take place in Afghanistan this summer. The money will be used to vamp up security, as well as battle the rampant drug trade that exists in the nation, particularly from Afghan poppy seeds.

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ECO Names New Secretary General

Afgahnistan's Ambassador to Iran, Mohammad Yahya Maorufi, was recently appointed as the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) secretary general.

Afgahnistan's Ambassador to Iran, Mohammad Yahya Maorufi, was recently appointed as the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) secretary general. The decision was made by the ECO heads of states in Tehran on Wednesday. The summit was attended by Afgahn President Hamid Karzai, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Turkish President Abdullah Gul, along with members from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

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Afghanistan Holds Mineral Treasure: Minister

Afghanistan is a mineral rich nation.

Afghanistan is a mineral rich nation. The country's mine minister is urging foreign firms to invest in oil, gas and iron ore sectors in the largest mineral deposits in the region. The news that Afghanistan might have one of the largest mineral deposits has been reported by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The report has observed that Afghanistan is probably the richest in the field of minerals, excluding diamonds. According to the USGS survey, Afghanistan's north is estimated to hold between 600 to 700 billion cubic meters of natural gas and overall the nation has 25 million tonnes of oil in four basins.

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Canada to Provide Money to Enhance Rule of Law in Afghanistan

Canadian Foreign minister Lawrence Cannon announced that Canada will contribute additional aid to improving the rule of law in Afghanistan.

Canadian Foreign minister Lawrence Cannon announced that Canada will contribute additional aid to improving the rule of law in Afghanistan. Canada has pledge 21 million Canadian dollars that will go towards Afghan National Police and prison guards. The money, according to Afghan officials, will be overseen by the UN via a trust fund. The package comes as Canada continues to pledge its support to Afghanistan moving forward with other donation's going toward Afghan's presidential election and improving human rights.

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MTN Eyes 25% Growth in Cellphone Customers

Africa's largest cellphone operator by subscribers, MTN, is seeking to increase customers by a quarter this year.

Africa's largest cellphone operator by subscribers, MTN, is seeking to increase customers by a quarter this year. MTN aggressively pursued acquisitions to obtain rights to introduce its products in Nigeria, Iran and Afghanistan in recent years. MTN is said to be cautiously optimistic about 2009 when it reported a 33 percent rise in 2008. The company saw increases in both Nigeria and Iran. The telecommunication has been hit by the global financial crisis but telecommunication companies in developing nations seem to be relatively unscathed as MTN seeks to continue its aggressive strategy targeted at Nigeria, Afghanistan and Iran.

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Iran 'Ready' to Aid Afghanistan'

Iran is currently in talks with Afghanistan's leaders at the Economic Cooperation Operation (ECO) summit on various topics affecting the two nations.

Iran is currently in talks with Afghanistan's leaders at the Economic Cooperation Operation (ECO) summit on various topics affecting the two nations. Some of the talks include Pakistan, the three nations are on the verge of increasing cooperation to help politically stabilize the nations. In particular, Iran is seeking to increase its economic assistance to Afghanistan and assist training the Afghan army and national police. Afghanistan's main concern at the moment is the ongoing flourishing drug trade that is occurring. The government is finding it difficult to combat the drug war due to lack of security and border police. The burgeoning drug trade in Afghanistan is impacting all neighboring countries as well as the Arabian Peninsula.

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Iran, Tajikistan and Afghanistan to Boost Trilateral Ties

Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan have recently announced to increase cooperation amongst the three nations by establishing a trilateral investment bank

Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan have recently announced to increase cooperation amongst the three nations by establishing a trilateral investment bank. The announcements came whilst the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) summit was happening in Tehran. The three nations have pledged to work on agreements covering electricity, water, transportation and trade. The Tajik president and the Afghan president have also held bilateral discussion with desires to implement security and transport agreements. The Tajik and Afghan President are scheduled to meet again in Afghanistan's northern city Mazar-i-Sharif on march 20-21.

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Regional Economic Summit Opens in Iran

The Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) summit began on Wednesday with leaders from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey and other regional countries gathering in Tehran.

The Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) summit began on Wednesday with leaders from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey and other regional countries gathering in Tehran. The point of the summit will largely focus on the global financial crisis and the effects it has on the region. ECO members that are present are leaders from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

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China's Copper Appetite Could Hold Key to Afghanistan's Future

China and the United States are looking to gain access to the Aynak copper reserves in Afghanistan.

China and the United States are looking to gain access to the Aynak copper reserves in Afghanistan. The United States will provide security to the Chinese firm that has assigned $3 billion to this project. Originally the security forces were not assigned to protect the Chinese investment but to stop Taliban infiltration into the capital of Kabul. But the security provided could eventually lead to Afghanistan's economic revival. The project will provide jobs, injects royalties and taxes into Afghanistan's economy. The deal also includes China facilitating and sponsoring Afghanistan's first national railway.

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afghanistan

1 Million New Afghan Students Start School

Four-hundred thousand students cannot attend classes, despite a million Afghan students starting a new school year.

Four-hundred thousand students cannot attend classes, despite a million Afghan students starting a new school year. Over 2,000 schools were built over the last year to provide for the additional students noted Education Minister Farouq Wardak. Wardak said that the school system should expect 7.2 million up from 6.2 million last year. But, due to security concerns 614 out of 13,300 schools remain closed. Another 5.3million children are currently unable to go to school due to socio-economic reasons. The President Hamid Karzai has asked the Taliban to allow both boys and girls to attend school. Afghanistan, currently, has a population of 30 million with 11 million people believed to be illiterate and only 20 percent obtaining university degrees.

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UK Pledges Extra £50m to Afghanistan

The United Kingdom has pledged an addition of £50million of aid to Afghanistan

The United Kingdom has pledged an addition of ₤50million of aid to Afghanistan. The money is aimed to create jobs, fight drug trades and assist in the development of an Afghan government over a period of four years. The extra aid takes the total amount of aid pledged by the United Kingdom to £510million. ₤32 million of the extra funding is designated for infrastructure projects that includes a major road linking between the towns of Lashkar Gah and Gereshk and a hydro-electric plant. The rest of the money shall be used for agriculture and rural enterprise development, in order to create more jobs in rural areas.

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Ministry Forces Closure of Food Product Importers

Afghanistan's government has closed down six food import companies and confiscated eight tons of food due to public health concerns.

Afghanistan's government has closed down six food import companies and confiscated eight tons of food due to public health concerns. The Ministry of Public Health forced the companies to close due to worries that the food was either expired or spoiled. The companies that were impacted imported expired milk, oil and canned food products. This news comes after a routine inspection by the Minstry of Public Health. Members from the Health Ministry blamed companies for inadequate storage and temperatures but members of the public blame the oversights due to the lack of proper co-ordination within government sectors.

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Internally Displaced Persons in Northwest Battle Cold, Diseases and Hunger

Disease and hunger are on the rise as thousands of individuals are displaced across Badghis, a northwestern province of Afghanistan.

Disease and hunger are on the rise as thousands of individuals are displaced across Badghis, a northwestern province of Afghanistan. Over the past two months, displaced families and individuals have set up tents or sough shelter on the fringe of the provincial capital – Qala-e-Nau. Afghan government is currently struggling to find aid to the displaced and there has been little involvement from non-government aid agencies. Aid agencies are struggling to get supplies to the internally displaced persons (IDP) due to lack of security for aid workers and lack of accessibility. The conditions are worsening and Amnesty International has called for immediate attention to the IDPs.

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Japan to Pay Afghan Police Salary

Japan has pledged to fund various initiatives to help supports Afghanistan's reconstruction efforts.

Japan has pledged to fund various initiatives to help supports Afghanistan's reconstruction efforts. Amongst some of the Afghans that shall benefit from the aid include 80,000 Afghan's police officers. The fund shall also go towards construction of schools and hospitals and support teacher-training, a ministry official stated. Overall Japan has pledged about $2billion towards Afghan reconstruction after Japan withdrew all her troops.

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Funding Crisis Hits Afghan Financial Sector

Afghanistan's financial sector is currently suffering from a severe funding crisis that has already resulted in the government control of the Development Bank of Afghanistan, one of the country's few commercial banks.

Afghanistan's financial sector is currently suffering from a severe funding crisis that has already resulted in the government control of the Development Bank of Afghanistan, one of the country's few commercial banks. Officials believe that commercial banks have been ignoring rules designed to protect them from making risky loans. Moreover, commercial banks have not been adequately regulated, resulting in potential collapses and overall decrease in public confidence in the Afghan banking system.

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Afghanistan Seeks to Revive Farming Sector Addicted to Opium

Afghanistan will ask international donors next month for $4 billion to revive its agricultural sector.

Afghanistan will ask international donors next month for $4 billion to revive its agricultural sector. However, it could be a hard sell with massive opium since foreign-funded efforts have largely failed to increase legal alternative to the narcotic though the price of grain has sharply raised.

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Afghan Aid in Doubt as Tax Goal Missed

Because Afghanistan did not honor an agreement with the International Monetary Fund and because the country's three-year development plan could be rejected, international aid for Afghanistan is now in doubt.

Because Afghanistan did not honor an agreement with the International Monetary Fund and because the country's three-year development plan could be rejected, international aid for Afghanistan is now in doubt. This is because the government failed to reach a target amount raised in taxes and the latest drafts of the Afghan National Development Strategy are of very poor quality. It has had time to achieve both these tasks but has not done so.

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WB for reforms, check on graft

The World Bank has called for greater efforts to increase international assistance and more opportunities for Afghanistan.

The World Bank has called for greater efforts to increase international assistance and more opportunities for Afghanistan. After reflecting on progress, Afghanistan is looking to form greater economic integration with its neighbors. The country has come a long way despite its turmoil over the last six years, and it looks to do much more to take the country to the next level and meet the expectations of the Afghan people.

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AFGHANISTAN: BEYOND SECURITY ISSUE, THE ECONOMY IS BOOMING

Buoyed by strong year-on-year growth in foreign direct investment, Afghanistan has been enjoying double-digit growth since 2002

Buoyed by strong year-on-year growth in foreign direct investment, Afghanistan has been enjoying double-digit growth since 2002. The World Bank predicts that in 2008, the GDP growth rate could reach 13 percent. The government in Kabul is doing what it can to keep investors interested in Afghanistan. The current legislative framework, for example, allows for 100 percent foreign ownership, full transferability of profits outside the country, international dispute resolution mechanisms and streamlined investment licensing procedures. Afghanistan's most lucrative investment sectors are exploration and extraction of natural resources; construction and reconstruction of infrastructure; agriculture and agribusiness; transportation and logistics; power generation and distribution; water supply and management; and telecommunications.

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Chinese Firm to Develop World Class Copper Mine in Afghanistan

The state-owned China Metallurgical Group has won the tender to develop one of the world's largest copper mines in Afghanistan.

The state-owned China Metallurgical Group has won the tender to develop one of the world's largest copper mines in Afghanistan. The Group is said to be investing nearly USD 3 billion in the mine near Aynak and will employ nearly 10,000 people. Officials have claimed that there are 13 million tons of copper ore and the site is in a relatively safe area. The Afghan government is keen on attracting foreign investors to the economy which has been slow to recover after three decades of war.

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Afghan Officials Offer Business Incentives to Russians

Russian Investors who invest in projects in Afghanistan will be granted benefits by the Afghan government.

Russian Investors who invest in projects in Afghanistan will be granted benefits by the Afghan government. One of the benefits will be an exemption from taxes, which will apply to companies that have investment projects that are four to eight years. According to Zalmai Aziz, Afghanistan Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, the previous procedure for registering firms in the country has been made much more simple. President of Afghanistan Investment Support Agency, Omar Zakhilwal has said, "Russian business is very important to us, and we are ready to offer benefits and concessions."

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Disgruntled Afghan Farmers Oppose Chemical Spraying

Despite resistance from the Afghan government and farmers, the United States remains strong in its drive to remove opium farms from Afghanistan.

Despite resistance from the Afghan government and farmers, the United States remains strong in its drive to remove opium farms from Afghanistan. The opium industry is worth an estimated USD3 billion a year and while the farmers receive some of that money, the rest goes to drug lords and the Taliban, who previously condemned opium for being non-Islamic. The plan to spray chemicals on opium poppies has been resisted heavily by Afghan farmers who believe the chemicals will ruin their land permanently. The dry land and lack of proper resources has prevented the farmers from successfully growing enough wheat and in order to make money, several farmers have planted cannabis. Ultimately, it is hoped that pressuring the farmers to find alternative crops to harvest will boost the Afghan economy.

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Afghanistan Hosts Economic Cooperation Organization

For the first time in decades, Afghanistan will be host to officials from the Economic Cooperation Organization's ten countries.

For the first time in decades, Afghanistan will be host to officials from the Economic Cooperation Organization's ten countries. The five day conference that includes Afghanistan, Azerbajian, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey and the five former Soviet republics in Central Asia, will convene in Heart. Although the ECO meets annually, Afghanistan has not been the host due to internal war. Sultan Ahmad Beheen, Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman, said the conference will include discussions regarding trade, transportation and other economic issues as well as potentially discussing the International Donors Fund. The fund was set up to promote reconstruction in Afghanistan. World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank, sectors of the United Nations as well as United States officials will be attending the event as observers. Beheen hopes the conference will promote Afghanistan's potential to become a hub connecting the Middle East and Asia.

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Afghanistan to Start Construction on "Ring Road"

Construction on Afghanistan's Ring Road is expected to begin soon, as funding is already in place.

Construction on Afghanistan's Ring Road is expected to begin soon, as funding is already in place. The Asia Development Bank has provided USD176 million and the government of Afghanistan will provide USD4 million. One section of the road will be completed by the Islamic Development Bank and Saudi Arabia. While the completion of the road will be a milestone, it is not expected that is will be finished by the proposed deadline. Niklas Swanstrom, director of the Institute for Security and Development Policy has said, ""Afghanistan has been a crucial factor in the whole economic equation of Central Asia. There have been estimates, for example, that the impact of [completing the Ring Road along with] all the regional network of trade would be 771,000 full-time jobs. It would be immense. It would be very positive."

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The Asian Development Bank will Loan Afghanistan USD170 Million to Complete Road

Afghanistan will receive USD170 million in loans from The Asian Development Bank.

Afghanistan will receive USD170 million in loans from The Asian Development Bank. The money is supplied to help Afghanistan rebuild it's "ring road", a highway that links Kabul to other large cities in the country. The new highway will go through Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif avoiding the southern part of the country, where the Taleban is most active. The banks says that the road will hopefully encourage more transport links between Afghanistan and it's neighbors. The first road connection to Tajikistan, a bridge across the Pyanj River, was completed last month. The Asian Development Bank has supplied nearly USD1 billion in assistance to Afghanistan, USD600 million of that intended for road construction.

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Struggling Farmers Replace Opium with Marijuana while Afghan Government Seeks Funding to end Production

Aid workers in Afghanistan are struggling to ease the growing production of opium by finding alternative crops.

Aid workers in Afghanistan are struggling to ease the growing production of opium by finding alternative crops. 93 percent of opium produced in this year came from Afghanistan. The northern part of the country has been met with success as seen in the Balkh province where in 2006 where 7,000 hectares of poppies were cultivated declared the area opium free in 2007. Unfortunately, the alternative, as farmers are discovering, is to replace opium with marijuana. Although marijuana will not be as profitable as opium, it still brings in more money to the impoverished farmers than legal plants. Balkh hopes to bank on the promises of richer nations who devote money to fighting narcotics and while informing farmers not to plant marijuana he is seeking both national and local funding to provide incentive.

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Tajikistan May Cut Domestic Power in Favor of Afghanistan

Tajik state-run power company Barqi Tojik considers the possibility of cutting short energy supply for domestic recipients during the winter months to ensure supply for neighboring Afghanistan.

Tajik state-run power company Barqi Tojik considers the possibility of cutting short energy supply for domestic recipients during the winter months to ensure supply for neighboring Afghanistan. The company is worried about loosing Afghanistan as customer if they are not capable of perpetuating the 10 megawatts supply. Afghanistan remunerates the company with 2 US cents per kilowatt-hour, whereas Tajik customers only pay 0.68 US cents.

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Bridge Linking Tajikistan/Afghanistan Opened

A bridge linking Tajikistan and Afghanistan has been opened in the hopes of strengthening trade in the region. The newly built structure connects the borders of the two countries over the Pyanj River, and will help to revitalize the economic and cultural relations of the two countries. However, both governments must be cognizant of the bridge's potential to facilitate illegal activities, and must establish appropriate regulations to prevent such activities.

A bridge linking Tajikistan and Afghanistan has been opened in the hopes of strengthening trade in the region. The newly built structure connects the borders of the two countries over the Pyanj River, and will help to revitalize the economic and cultural relations of the two countries. However, both governments must be cognizant of the bridge's potential to facilitate illegal activities, and must establish appropriate regulations to prevent such activities.

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Asian Development Bank to Finalize Framework for Gas Pipeline

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is working on finalizing the framework for a USD 4 billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project. Delegations will determine how to allocate gas quantities for the producers as well as the requirements for recipient countries. The United States has openly expressed support for this project and is prepared to aid the project in security issues.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is working on finalizing the framework for a USD 4 billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project. Delegations will determine how to allocate gas quantities for the producers as well as the requirements for recipient countries. The United States has openly expressed support for this project and is prepared to aid the project in security issues.

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Nuclear Plant In Iran Delayed y Russian State building Firm

Atomstroiexport, a Russian state owned firm, has been building Bushehr, a nuclear power plant in Iran, over the past several years. Recently the completion date has been pushed back to the fall of 2008 at the earliest. This project has helped to build relations between Russia and Tehran, but a seires of missed payments have weakend relations and undermined the confidence of project completion. The Russian Firm has stated that they will continue with the USD 1 billion project despite recieveng only a fraction of the USD 25 million per month needed to stay on schedule. This delay is a relief to the United States, which has strained relations with both Russia and Tehran.

Atomstroiexport, a Russian state owned firm, has been building Bushehr, a nuclear power plant in Iran, over the past several years. Recently the completion date has been pushed back to the fall of 2008 at the earliest. This project has helped to build relations between Russia and Tehran, but a seires of missed payments have weakend relations and undermined the confidence of project completion. The Russian Firm has stated that they will continue with the USD 1 billion project despite recieveng only a fraction of the USD 25 million per month needed to stay on schedule. This delay is a relief to the United States, which has strained relations with both Russia and Tehran.

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Positive Economic Growth in Indonesia

Is Indonesia now entering an economic recession? Many economists and market analysts in Indonesia is analyzing various factors, such as the growth of foreign investments, the currency stability of Indonesian Rupiahs against US Dollars, and the growth in bank lending. They are confident that Indonesian economy is in good shape and is recovering from the monetary crisis.

Is Indonesia now entering an economic recession? Many economists and market analysts in Indonesia is analyzing various factors, such as the growth of foreign investments, the currency stability of Indonesian Rupiahs against US Dollars, and the growth in bank lending. They are confident that Indonesian economy is in good shape and is recovering from the monetary crisis.

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Uzbek-Afghan Intergovernmental Commission Convenes in Tashkent

On Wednesday, the Uzbek-Afghan intergovernmental commission for trade-economic and scientific-technical cooperation convened in the Uzbek capital to focus on trade cooperation. Along with the discussion of diversifying and increasing trade turnover, the commission co-chairman from the Uzbekistan, Vice Prime Minister N.Khanov, said projects on developing the economic relation between two countries, such as developing transport communications, agriculture, tourism, oil and gas processing are of interest. Uzbek-Afghan trade turnover increased 55.2 percent since last year.

On Wednesday, the Uzbek-Afghan intergovernmental commission for trade-economic and scientific-technical cooperation convened in the Uzbek capital to focus on trade cooperation. Along with the discussion of diversifying and increasing trade turnover, the commission co-chairman from the Uzbekistan, Vice Prime Minister N.Khanov, said projects on developing the economic relation between two countries, such as developing transport communications, agriculture, tourism, oil and gas processing are of interest. Uzbek-Afghan trade turnover increased 55.2 percent since last year.

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Turkmenistan Interested in Pipeline Across Afghanistan

Turkmenistan's President announced that he is still interested in implementing a plan for a gas pipeline through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India. This plan has been in the works for awhile, but President Berdymukhamedov wants to assure the public that the project has not been superseded by talks of other pipeline projects. The pipeline theoretically will have the capacity to transport 30 billion cubic meters of gas a year.

Turkmenistan's President announced that he is still interested in implementing a plan for a gas pipeline through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India. This plan has been in the works for awhile, but President Berdymukhamedov wants to assure the public that the project has not been superseded by talks of other pipeline projects. The pipeline theoretically will have the capacity to transport 30 billion cubic meters of gas a year.

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Kazakhtelecom Closes Tajikistan Office in Fiber Optic Venture

Kazakhtelecom, Kazakhstan's national telecommunications operator, intends to close its representative office in Tajikistan amid criticisms that Tajik Telecom is not fulfilling its promise to expedite the implementation of a fiber optic infrastructure. Nearly USD 100 Million is slated to be invested into this project by Kazakhtelecom, which was hoped to strategically reach markets in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India through Tajikistan. Makhsut Karzhubayev, the head of Kazakhtelecom's representative office in Dushanbe noted alternative routes for the fiber optic lines are being explored in Turkmenistan.

Kazakhtelecom, Kazakhstan's national telecommunications operator, intends to close its representative office in Tajikistan amid criticisms that Tajik Telecom is not fulfilling its promise to expedite the implementation of a fiber optic infrastructure. Nearly USD 100 Million is slated to be invested into this project by Kazakhtelecom, which was hoped to strategically reach markets in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India through Tajikistan. Makhsut Karzhubayev, the head of Kazakhtelecom's representative office in Dushanbe noted alternative routes for the fiber optic lines are being explored in Turkmenistan.

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Indigo Tajikistan Bought by Rival Cellular Provider at USD 400 Million

In an effort to gain control of the Central Asian mobile phone market, Fintur Holdings B.V. is completing private negotiations in buying the leading cellular provider in southern Tajikistan, Indigo Tajikistan. Fintur Holdings B.V. is one of the leading providers of mobile telecommunications services in Eurasian emerging markets through its operations in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Georgia and Moldova. Whereas MCT Corp, the parent company of Indigo Tajikistan, is considering leveraging other telecom ventures in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, where the GSM infrastructure is expansive and operational.

In an effort to gain control of the Central Asian mobile phone market, Fintur Holdings B.V. is completing private negotiations in buying the leading cellular provider in southern Tajikistan, Indigo Tajikistan. Fintur Holdings B.V. is one of the leading providers of mobile telecommunications services in Eurasian emerging markets through its operations in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Georgia and Moldova. Whereas MCT Corp, the parent company of Indigo Tajikistan, is considering leveraging other telecom ventures in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, where the GSM infrastructure is expansive and operational.

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Uzbekistan: Energy Talks Bring Afghan Delegation to Tashkent

On Tuesday a delegation led by Muhammad Ismail-Khan, Minister of Energy and Water resources of the Islamic Republic of Arghanistan, met in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent to discuss cooperation between the two central Asian nations. In particular, dialogue concerning the electrical power supply was continued and it was made clear that Uzbek energy exports can be increasingly delivered to the Afghan people. Fostering further development between both nations echoed throughout the meeting.

On Tuesday a delegation led by Muhammad Ismail-Khan, Minister of Energy and Water resources of the Islamic Republic of Arghanistan, met in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent to discuss cooperation between the two central Asian nations. In particular, dialogue concerning the electrical power supply was continued and it was made clear that Uzbek energy exports can be increasingly delivered to the Afghan people. Fostering further development between both nations echoed throughout the meeting.

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US Grants Aid to Afghanistan

The US will grant USD 6.4 billion in aid to Afghanistan from 2008 to 2010. However, the money will not be distributed to local governments in Afghanistan that have ties with drug dealers, criminals, or terrorists. This legislation is aimed at cutting the increasing opium market in which poppy cultivation grew by 59 percent in the 2005-2006 growing season.

The US will grant USD 6.4 billion in aid to Afghanistan from 2008 to 2010. However, the money will not be distributed to local governments in Afghanistan that have ties with drug dealers, criminals, or terrorists. This legislation is aimed at cutting the increasing opium market in which poppy cultivation grew by 59 percent in the 2005-2006 growing season.

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Tajikistan's Afghani Bridge Inspires Hope of Regional Trade

The Italian company Rizzani de Eccher is nearly done with a strategically significant bridge across the Panj River into Afghanistan, which hopes to connect Tajikistan to an underutilized regional trade partner. "The bridge is the symbol, the concrete symbol, of larger regional integration," says US Ambassador to Tajikistan Tracey Ann Jacobson. However, the promise of increased trade is met by critics who claim that the two countries, separated so long by insufficient routes, opposing ideologies, and instability, will need more than a bridge to merge in any productive way.

The Italian company Rizzani de Eccher is nearly done with a strategically significant bridge across the Panj River into Afghanistan, which hopes to connect Tajikistan to an underutilized regional trade partner. "The bridge is the symbol, the concrete symbol, of larger regional integration," says US Ambassador to Tajikistan Tracey Ann Jacobson. However, the promise of increased trade is met by critics who claim that the two countries, separated so long by insufficient routes, opposing ideologies, and instability, will need more than a bridge to merge in any productive way.

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Russian Stock Market WIll Not Be Propped Up By Stabilization Fund

During his visit to Luxembourg, President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia's Stabilization Fund will not be used to invest in domestic securities in order to hold up the falling stock market. There are concerns that Russia's economy is riding on a bubble that is beginning to burst, though others have argued that this is merely a correction. Since reaching an all-time high of 2,008 points on April 16, Russia's stock index has fallen by 10.8 percent to 1,791.

During his visit to Luxembourg, President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia's Stabilization Fund will not be used to invest in domestic securities in order to hold up the falling stock market. There are concerns that Russia's economy is riding on a bubble that is beginning to burst, though others have argued that this is merely a correction. Since reaching an all-time high of 2,008 points on April 16, Russia's stock index has fallen by 10.8 percent to 1,791.

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Top Korean Conglomerates Lose Profits

The Korean won's gains and falling prices of IT products on the international market have caused Korea's top conglomerates to lose profits in the first quarter of 2007. Moreover, export-oriented businesses have reported a drop in profits from January to March due to a lack of price competitiveness.

The Korean won's gains and falling prices of IT products on the international market have caused Korea's top conglomerates to lose profits in the first quarter of 2007. Moreover, export-oriented businesses have reported a drop in profits from January to March due to a lack of price competitiveness.

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afghanistan

Former Afghan Finance Minister May Succeed Wolfowitz

As a number of contenders emerge in the search to replace embattled World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz, former Afghan Finance Minister and World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani has risen to the top of the pack. Though it would require US President Bush to break with tradition and appoint a non-American, the Kabul University chancellor is highly touted for his work in rebuilding the Afghan economy following the devastating war in 2001.

As a number of contenders emerge in the search to replace embattled World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz, former Afghan Finance Minister and World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani has risen to the top of the pack. Though it would require US President Bush to break with tradition and appoint a non-American, the Kabul University chancellor is highly touted for his work in rebuilding the Afghan economy following the devastating war in 2001.

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ACU Considers Multi-Currency Adoption, Names New Members

Meeting at the 36th board meeting of the Asian Clearing Union (ACU), the directors of the union's member banks created a technical committee to look into the possibility of introducing multi-currency settlements. Currently, ACU countries are required to settle external trade payments exclusively with US dollars. In addition, the ACU welcomed Afghanistan and the Maldives to its ranks, and have extended membership invitations to a number of Central Asian and CIS nations.

Meeting at the 36th board meeting of the Asian Clearing Union (ACU), the directors of the union's member banks created a technical committee to look into the possibility of introducing multi-currency settlements. Currently, ACU countries are required to settle external trade payments exclusively with US dollars. In addition, the ACU welcomed Afghanistan and the Maldives to its ranks, and have extended membership invitations to a number of Central Asian and CIS nations.

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China's Irrational Exuberance

ON FEBRUARY 27TH China's stock market fell 8.8 percent, its worst one-day decline in over a decade amid speculation that Beijing is going to raise interest rates and get tougher on bank lending. Rightly so, control measures must be taken to cool an overheated market that surged 130 percent last year. Keeping the stock market in check with healthy corrections like the one just witnessed is necessary if China wants to avoid a burst akin to that of the United States' dotcoms in the early 2000s.

Underlying Causes of Over Speculation

Understandably, China was overdue for a bullish run in 2006 after five years of decline. But the 130 percent stock market increase last year has less to do with the fundamental profitability of Chinese companies then a spike in irrational demand for equities. There has been a sharp rise in the middle class that have high savings rate. Their high savings rate is born by the fact that China offers tiny pension and healthcare benefits for which they must save for especially since there is a disproportionate number of elderly due to the one child policy.

The Chinese must put this money somewhere other then underneath their couches and at the low interest rate, currently below the rate of inflation, individuals look to the stock market. Add in the fact that China's economy grew 10.5 percent in real terms last year and you get a recipe for irrational exuberance in the stock market. 2.4 million investors started trading stocks last year, a 250 percent increase in new accounts. Many individuals are taking out loans on cars or houses to invest in stocks as they see their investments on savings going through the roof. Commodities expert Jim Rogers says, "When you see shop assistants and taxi drivers racing out to borrow money to buy stocks, you've got trouble. That's the market sucking in a whole lot of neophytes priming to get slaughtered."

Indicators of a Stock Market Bubble

China's stock market is particularly susceptible to speculative bubbles since China has an enormous number of bank deposits with low interest rates and because controls on capital outflows make it relatively hard to invest out of the country. As a result, when there are high levels of confidence over equities, the stock market sees heavy liquidity from retail investors. Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Cheng Siwei said, "There is a bubble going on. Investors should be concerned about the risks." Cheng and others estimate that 70 percent of listed companies on the Chinese stock market are worthless and should be de-listed. This has been the result of a number of IPOs by Chinese companies trying to cash in on the exuberance.

One indicator of irrational exuberance is measured by the Price to Earnings ratio. The average P/E ratio for China's A shares, stocks available to mainland investors, is 34 compared to the average P/E ratio of 18 for U.S. stocks in the S&P 500 Index. Furthermore, according to a recent report by the investment bank JP Morgan, out of the 37 Chinese companies listed jointly in Shanghai and Hong Kong, 8 trade on the mainland at least double those quoted in Hong Kong. By putting all their eggs in one basket, the rising Chinese middle-class may be setting itself up for a disaster.

Policy Prescriptions

Market corrections like the one witnessed on February 27th are healthy for the economy. China must continue to issue statements such as those of Cheng to educate the Chinese investor about the dangers of a market backlash that would hit the heart of the middle class. Administratively, Chinese banks must tighten their lending policies to ensure that individuals do not recklessly invest away all their assets into the stock market. China must also raise interest rates to dampen the high rates of investment that contribute to their overheating economy. They should also allow greater competition in the financial system by allowing more efficient foreign banks such as those in the US into China. China must focus on shifting the structure of demand. By moving investment away from an overheating stock market towards greater education, healthcare benefits, and pension plans China would effectively move from short term gains to a path that is more sustainable.

ON FEBRUARY 27TH China's stock market fell 8.8 percent, its worst one-day decline in over a decade amid speculation that Beijing is going to raise interest rates and get tougher on bank lending. Rightly so, control measures must be taken to cool an overheated market that surged 130 percent last year. Keeping the stock market in check with healthy corrections like the one just witnessed is necessary if China wants to avoid a burst akin to that of the United States' dotcoms in the early 2000s.

Underlying Causes of Over Speculation

Understandably, China was overdue for a bullish run in 2006 after five years of decline. But the 130 percent stock market increase last year has less to do with the fundamental profitability of Chinese companies then a spike in irrational demand for equities. There has been a sharp rise in the middle class that have high savings rate. Their high savings rate is born by the fact that China offers tiny pension and healthcare benefits for which they must save for especially since there is a disproportionate number of elderly due to the one child policy.

The Chinese must put this money somewhere other then underneath their couches and at the low interest rate, currently below the rate of inflation, individuals look to the stock market. Add in the fact that China's economy grew 10.5 percent in real terms last year and you get a recipe for irrational exuberance in the stock market. 2.4 million investors started trading stocks last year, a 250 percent increase in new accounts. Many individuals are taking out loans on cars or houses to invest in stocks as they see their investments on savings going through the roof. Commodities expert Jim Rogers says, "When you see shop assistants and taxi drivers racing out to borrow money to buy stocks, you've got trouble. That's the market sucking in a whole lot of neophytes priming to get slaughtered."

Indicators of a Stock Market Bubble

China's stock market is particularly susceptible to speculative bubbles since China has an enormous number of bank deposits with low interest rates and because controls on capital outflows make it relatively hard to invest out of the country. As a result, when there are high levels of confidence over equities, the stock market sees heavy liquidity from retail investors. Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Cheng Siwei said, "There is a bubble going on. Investors should be concerned about the risks." Cheng and others estimate that 70 percent of listed companies on the Chinese stock market are worthless and should be de-listed. This has been the result of a number of IPOs by Chinese companies trying to cash in on the exuberance.

One indicator of irrational exuberance is measured by the Price to Earnings ratio. The average P/E ratio for China's A shares, stocks available to mainland investors, is 34 compared to the average P/E ratio of 18 for U.S. stocks in the S&P 500 Index. Furthermore, according to a recent report by the investment bank JP Morgan, out of the 37 Chinese companies listed jointly in Shanghai and Hong Kong, 8 trade on the mainland at least double those quoted in Hong Kong. By putting all their eggs in one basket, the rising Chinese middle-class may be setting itself up for a disaster.

Policy Prescriptions

Market corrections like the one witnessed on February 27th are healthy for the economy. China must continue to issue statements such as those of Cheng to educate the Chinese investor about the dangers of a market backlash that would hit the heart of the middle class. Administratively, Chinese banks must tighten their lending policies to ensure that individuals do not recklessly invest away all their assets into the stock market. China must also raise interest rates to dampen the high rates of investment that contribute to their overheating economy. They should also allow greater competition in the financial system by allowing more efficient foreign banks such as those in the US into China. China must focus on shifting the structure of demand. By moving investment away from an overheating stock market towards greater education, healthcare benefits, and pension plans China would effectively move from short term gains to a path that is more sustainable.

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afghanistan

Rupee Highest in 9 Years

Having passed the mark of 42 rupees against 1 US dollar, India's currency surged to a 9 years high yesterday due to continuing foreign inflows and sales of foreign currency holdings.

Having passed the mark of 42 rupees against 1 US dollar, India's currency surged to a 9 years high yesterday due to continuing foreign inflows and sales of foreign currency holdings.

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afghanistan

Explanation on China's Record Reserves

After it had become public last week that China's foreign exchange reserves are the world's highest due to huge trade surpluses, the deputy governor of the People's Bank of China announces two further factors this week. First, the unwinding of swap agreements between the central bank and Chinese commercial lenders, and second, some of the funds raised in the huge offshore initial public offerings by Chinese banks and other enterprises have been bought back onshore to benefit from the rising renminbi.

After it had become public last week that China's foreign exchange reserves are the world's highest due to huge trade surpluses, the deputy governor of the People's Bank of China announces two further factors this week. First, the unwinding of swap agreements between the central bank and Chinese commercial lenders, and second, some of the funds raised in the huge offshore initial public offerings by Chinese banks and other enterprises have been bought back onshore to benefit from the rising renminbi.

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afghanistan

Indonesian and Malaysian Currencies Sag

The Indonesian rupiah and the Malaysian ringgit both declined significantly Thursday as fund managers trimmed back riskier investments in the wake of the stock plunge on Tuesday. The rupiah hit a 5-month low while the ringgit closed at its lowest this year. South Korea's won hit a low and then rebounded slightly for a net loss 0.3%.

The Indonesian rupiah and the Malaysian ringgit both declined significantly Thursday as fund managers trimmed back riskier investments in the wake of the stock plunge on Tuesday. The rupiah hit a 5-month low while the ringgit closed at its lowest this year. South Korea's won hit a low and then rebounded slightly for a net loss 0.3%.

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Other Important News In Afghanistan


Afghanistan to Receive $40 Million for Elections

The current global economic crisis has many countries developing new ways to save money, but fortunately for the government of Afghanistan, that does not mean that they are refraining from continuing their financial support of their elections.

The current global economic crisis has many countries developing new ways to save money, but fortunately for the government of Afghanistan, that does not mean that they are refraining from continuing their financial support of their elections. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced on Monday that the U.S. Government will commit $40 million to aiding the elections that are to take place in Afghanistan this summer. The money will be used to vamp up security, as well as battle the rampant drug trade that exists in the nation, particularly from Afghan poppy seeds.

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ECO Names New Secretary General

Afgahnistan's Ambassador to Iran, Mohammad Yahya Maorufi, was recently appointed as the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) secretary general.

Afgahnistan's Ambassador to Iran, Mohammad Yahya Maorufi, was recently appointed as the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) secretary general. The decision was made by the ECO heads of states in Tehran on Wednesday. The summit was attended by Afgahn President Hamid Karzai, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Turkish President Abdullah Gul, along with members from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

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Afghanistan Holds Mineral Treasure: Minister

Afghanistan is a mineral rich nation.

Afghanistan is a mineral rich nation. The country's mine minister is urging foreign firms to invest in oil, gas and iron ore sectors in the largest mineral deposits in the region. The news that Afghanistan might have one of the largest mineral deposits has been reported by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The report has observed that Afghanistan is probably the richest in the field of minerals, excluding diamonds. According to the USGS survey, Afghanistan's north is estimated to hold between 600 to 700 billion cubic meters of natural gas and overall the nation has 25 million tonnes of oil in four basins.

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Canada to Provide Money to Enhance Rule of Law in Afghanistan

Canadian Foreign minister Lawrence Cannon announced that Canada will contribute additional aid to improving the rule of law in Afghanistan.

Canadian Foreign minister Lawrence Cannon announced that Canada will contribute additional aid to improving the rule of law in Afghanistan. Canada has pledge 21 million Canadian dollars that will go towards Afghan National Police and prison guards. The money, according to Afghan officials, will be overseen by the UN via a trust fund. The package comes as Canada continues to pledge its support to Afghanistan moving forward with other donation's going toward Afghan's presidential election and improving human rights.

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MTN Eyes 25% Growth in Cellphone Customers

Africa's largest cellphone operator by subscribers, MTN, is seeking to increase customers by a quarter this year.

Africa's largest cellphone operator by subscribers, MTN, is seeking to increase customers by a quarter this year. MTN aggressively pursued acquisitions to obtain rights to introduce its products in Nigeria, Iran and Afghanistan in recent years. MTN is said to be cautiously optimistic about 2009 when it reported a 33 percent rise in 2008. The company saw increases in both Nigeria and Iran. The telecommunication has been hit by the global financial crisis but telecommunication companies in developing nations seem to be relatively unscathed as MTN seeks to continue its aggressive strategy targeted at Nigeria, Afghanistan and Iran.

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Iran 'Ready' to Aid Afghanistan'

Iran is currently in talks with Afghanistan's leaders at the Economic Cooperation Operation (ECO) summit on various topics affecting the two nations.

Iran is currently in talks with Afghanistan's leaders at the Economic Cooperation Operation (ECO) summit on various topics affecting the two nations. Some of the talks include Pakistan, the three nations are on the verge of increasing cooperation to help politically stabilize the nations. In particular, Iran is seeking to increase its economic assistance to Afghanistan and assist training the Afghan army and national police. Afghanistan's main concern at the moment is the ongoing flourishing drug trade that is occurring. The government is finding it difficult to combat the drug war due to lack of security and border police. The burgeoning drug trade in Afghanistan is impacting all neighboring countries as well as the Arabian Peninsula.

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Iran, Tajikistan and Afghanistan to Boost Trilateral Ties

Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan have recently announced to increase cooperation amongst the three nations by establishing a trilateral investment bank

Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan have recently announced to increase cooperation amongst the three nations by establishing a trilateral investment bank. The announcements came whilst the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) summit was happening in Tehran. The three nations have pledged to work on agreements covering electricity, water, transportation and trade. The Tajik president and the Afghan president have also held bilateral discussion with desires to implement security and transport agreements. The Tajik and Afghan President are scheduled to meet again in Afghanistan's northern city Mazar-i-Sharif on march 20-21.

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Regional Economic Summit Opens in Iran

The Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) summit began on Wednesday with leaders from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey and other regional countries gathering in Tehran.

The Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) summit began on Wednesday with leaders from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey and other regional countries gathering in Tehran. The point of the summit will largely focus on the global financial crisis and the effects it has on the region. ECO members that are present are leaders from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

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China's Copper Appetite Could Hold Key to Afghanistan's Future

China and the United States are looking to gain access to the Aynak copper reserves in Afghanistan.

China and the United States are looking to gain access to the Aynak copper reserves in Afghanistan. The United States will provide security to the Chinese firm that has assigned $3 billion to this project. Originally the security forces were not assigned to protect the Chinese investment but to stop Taliban infiltration into the capital of Kabul. But the security provided could eventually lead to Afghanistan's economic revival. The project will provide jobs, injects royalties and taxes into Afghanistan's economy. The deal also includes China facilitating and sponsoring Afghanistan's first national railway.

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1 Million New Afghan Students Start School

Four-hundred thousand students cannot attend classes, despite a million Afghan students starting a new school year.

Four-hundred thousand students cannot attend classes, despite a million Afghan students starting a new school year. Over 2,000 schools were built over the last year to provide for the additional students noted Education Minister Farouq Wardak. Wardak said that the school system should expect 7.2 million up from 6.2 million last year. But, due to security concerns 614 out of 13,300 schools remain closed. Another 5.3million children are currently unable to go to school due to socio-economic reasons. The President Hamid Karzai has asked the Taliban to allow both boys and girls to attend school. Afghanistan, currently, has a population of 30 million with 11 million people believed to be illiterate and only 20 percent obtaining university degrees.

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