News - Afghanistan
The US is not only focused on the security transition out of Afghanistan, but it is also driving an economic and trade transition in order to ensure the health of the country's financial system, US Deputy Foreign Secretary Robert Blake said Thursday.
Blake said in a meeting with local officials in northern Balkh province that the US is actively trying to connect Afghanistan to central Asia through building infrastructure such as a railway and implementing electricity projects.
"I am particularly focused on the economic side. We are trying to do everything we can to help develop a private-sector led and a trade-led transition here as the [security transition] proceeds," Blake told the attendees at the gathering in Mazar-e-Sharif.
Afghan traders reiterated their complaints over the problems posed by the lack of electricity and standard rail wagons to carry their materials and produce inside the country.
"A railway has been constructed from Hairatan to Mazar-e-Sharif but unfortunately we do not have the standard wagons to bring the trade materials from Hairatan to Mazar," Ahmad Nawid Barat, Deputy head of Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries in Balkh said.
The US officials also revealed plans to invest $300m in a power plant and Sheberghan gas sources in the northern Jawzjan province.