Afghan President Speaks With Kazakh Journalists before Visit to Astana

ASTANA – Khabar Agency reporters visited Kabul Nov. 16 to interview President of Afghanistan Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on the eve of his official visit to Kazakhstan, discussing security, the narcotics trade, his country’s economic potential and ongoing reform efforts.

There are several major drivers of insecurity, Ghani said, including targeting by global and regional terrorist groups, and activities of the Taliban.

“Thus, when we have correctly identified the problem, we must carefully consider the process, study it and develop appropriate plans,” he said.

“We hope that measures we have taken will change the situation in the country for the winter period. We stand for a long-term peace. Permanent and stable peace,” Ghani explained.

Regarding the narcotics trade that plagues his country, Ghani said development of Afghanistan’s agricultural sector, plus efforts to reduce demand, were needed. “Afghanistan needs an agricultural revolution,” he said.

Other avenues for economic development include generating energy, which Ghani says his country has great potential for. Regarding reform, the Afghan president said his government was continuing the reform programme he announced in December 2014, following 100-day programmes.

Concerning security, Ghani informed, the Afghan government has detained tens and hundreds of citizens of Uzbekistan, Russia’s Chechnya region and Russia proper, Tajikistan and China, accused of terrorist activities in Afghanistan.

“These people are not citizens of our country and have no problems with Afghanistan. They have problems in their countries. So, the problem can be solved only through development of a comprehensive regional plan,” he suggested.

Talking about his upcoming visit to Astana, Ghani noted that the main goal of the two countries is the development of comprehensive economy and trade relations.

“For example, Kazakhstan is one of the major producers of wheat in the region. In the coming five years, unfortunately, we need to import wheat. Thus, signing of a medium-term contract on the purchase of wheat from Kazakhstan is planned,” the Afghan President said.

“In addition, Kazakhstan is a major producer of steel. Steel is our main demand in the field of infrastructure construction. Besides, we are interested in Kazakh investments in Afghanistan. We may create conditions for cooperation in various fields with the Afghan state and private companies,” he added.

Also, Ghani noted that Afghanistan is grateful to Kazakhstan for providing education to Afghans in Kazakh universities.

“I hope that my upcoming visit to Kazakhstan and negotiations with Uzbekistan will contribute to achieving a common position on a wide range of issues,” Ghani said.

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