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Afghanistan Pledges 'Transparency' in Minerals Contracts

Afghanistan's mining minister is vowing transparency in the awarding of contracts to exploit what he says is the country's nearly $3 trillion in untapped mineral wealth.

Wahidullah Shahrani on Friday dismissed concerns about corruption in the bidding process. He told a reporter in London new legislation will required publication of information about all contracts that are awarded, in order to achieve "high standards of transparency."

The mining minister is in Britain seeking investors' bids for a share in Afghanistan's untapped deposits of iron, lithium, gold and other minerals. Shahrani said Afghanistan could be economically self-sufficient within a decade if its mineral resources are exploited properly.

Afghan and U.S. officials say the newfound wealth will benefit the Afghan people, but some warn it will take years to develop the mineral resources. Challenges include a lack of infrastructure and security, with some of the deposits located in Taliban strongholds.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.