Abdullah invites investors to Afghanistan during World Economic Forum



Chief Executive of Afghanistan Abdullah Abdullah gestures during a panel session of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting on January 22 in Davos, Switzerland. [Fabrice Coffrinia/AFP]

DAVOS -- Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah Wednesday (January 23) invited foreign investors to invest in his country, urging them to look beyond the security situation and to examine the potential of Afghanistan's rich natural resources.

"For the business community... of course security is an impediment," he told AFP in an interview Wednesday on the margins of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.

"But you cannot wait until security is perfect and then come in and invest," he said.

"Afghanistan's riches, natural resources, commodities which are today more precious than gold, these are all opportunities," he said, highlighting rare earths used in a multitude of electronics.

A possible solution

Meanwhile, the United States is conducting a flurry of diplomatic activity aimed at encouraging direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

Washington on Tuesday (January 22) confirmed ongoing negotiations between US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and representatives of the Taliban in Qatar.

At the Taliban's insistence, the dialogue has excluded the Afghan government, and Abdullah said that would ultimately have to change to bring about a lasting settlement.

"[A] peace process cannot take place by proxy," he said.

Rahimullah Yusufzai, a Pakistani journalist and senior analyst on Afghan political and security affairs, said the continuation of the talks represented "unprecedented" progress.

"I have never seen anything like this before," he said.

"This is the first serious effort. And it has continued since July... they have agreed to disagree and continued to meet. That's why it's unprecedented."

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid on Thursday (January 24) said "discussions are still on-going".

"We will talk in detail later when we reach agreement," he told AFP.

International effort

The United States is not the only country engaged in talks with the militants.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan, among other countries, are all participating in the US efforts.

"Pakistan has influence with the group, and the Russians also are somewhat supporting the Taliban," said Atiqullah Amarkhil, a Kabul-based military analyst.

"The meetings will continue in the future," he added.

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Dr. Abdullah's statement is correct, to some extent. Afghanistan has extremely rich natural resources. Lack of a proper plan, however, has resulted in plundering of these resources. With regards to the ongoing negotiations which the Taliban, the must know that they are to deal with the people and not the United States. Hence, people should also participate and Taliban should guarantee that they are going to cooperate with the government in the future.