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Afghanistan: Regional organisation to play role in reconstruction

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KABUL (NNI): An Asian regional economic organization is trying to play a role in rebuilding Afghanistan, a member state whose economy had almost been damaged to zero by 23 years of war, officials said. The Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), which groups 10 Islamic countries in the west and central Asian region, including Iran, Pakistan and Turkey, will begin to participate in the reconstruction process in Afghanistan, visiting ECO Secretary General Syed Mojtaba Arastou told a press conference here. Arastou said that he had met with President Hamid Karzai and different ministers of the Afghan government on possible areas for ECO's economic assistance to Afghanistan. Two agreements on goods transit and transportation will be signed between Afghanistan and ECO, he added. Arastou was the first ECO head to visit Afghanistan after the country gained the organization's membership in 1992. Noting that ECO members were among the first countries to support the peace process in Afghanistan after the collapse of the ruling Taliban one year ago, Arastou said that there were already several ECO programs for Afghanistan's reconstruction in areas like telecommunications, customs, and technical training. A special fund on Afghanistan's reconstruction will also be created under the ECO framework, the secretary general said. According to Arastou, Afghan President Karzai while meeting with ECO officials on Friday stressed the importance of keeping friendly relations and establishing economic cooperation among the ECO members.
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