KABUL, Oct 23: Afghanistan and Britain signed an agreement on Thursday to boost economic cooperation, trade and investment and Kabul said British firms were interested in its oil and gas sector.

Britain’s minister for international trade Mike O’Brien told a news conference after signing the agreement with Afghan Commerce Minister Sayed Mustafa Kazimi that enhancing the private sector was the basis for rebuilding war-torn Afghanistan.

“The agreement that we have signed today is the basis upon which Afghan and British business people can work together,” he said.

Kazimi said it would remove obstacles to business and investment and told Reuters that British businesses had shown a particular interest in investing in the oil and gas sector when he visited Britain eight months ago.

Kazimi said 14 British firms had expressed an interest in investing in Afghanistan. He did not name them, but added: “Oil and gas is one of the fields in which they would like to invest.”

Britain is one of the first European nations to establish formal commercial links with President Hamid Karzai’s government since the US-led forces overthrew the Taliban regime in 2001.

Afghanistan’s main business partners are currently Pakistan, Iran, India as well as several Gulf countries and its key exports include carpets, dried fruits and gemstones.

Afghanistan’s energy sector was severely disrupted in the country’s long civil war but it has been in talks with neighbours about a proposed cross-country pipeline that would take natural gas from Turkmenistan to Pakistan and beyond.—Reuters

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