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Karzai Urges Afghan Nationals to Return Home, Invest - 2002-07-18


Afghan president Hamid Karzai is urging Afghan's living abroad to return home and invest in the country, saying if they continue to stay away, foreign investors would remain wary.

Mr. Karzai said he is aware of the troubles investors have seeking to do business in the country. The problems range from corrupt officials to nagging bureaucratic procedures, but he said the government would help make things easier. He said because the government had been preoccupied with rebuilding the country, it had not always been aware of what was happening in its own offices.

Mr. Karzai said the cabinet approved a new investment law Wednesday, which should ease restrictions and help eliminate corruption. He called for Afghans living outside the country to return home and invest in Afghanistan as it strives to rebuild itself after suffering from 23-years of war.

Mr. Karzai was speaking at the opening of a four-day conference on trade and investment organized by the Afghan Civil Society Forum and the Swiss non-governmental organization Swisspeace.

The aim of the conference is for businessmen to discuss what must be done to encourage development and investment. They are scheduled to present a wish list to the government after the seminar ends Sunday.

Mr. Karzai has acknowledged one of the chief reasons investors are staying away is because of security concerns. Although the capitol of Kabul is bustling, security remains a top concern in the outlying provinces where warlords still have power.

The government eased the nightly curfew in the capital in a show of confidence Wednesday, but many people are still cautious. Vice President Hadji Abdul Qadir was assassinated earlier this month in a daring daylight attack in Kabul, but most people in the capital are going about their business as usual.

Afghanistan has been devastated by more than two-decades of war and occupation, but Mr. Karzai said he is confident if the people relied on themselves and not on foreign aid, the country could begin the long, painful process of rebuilding.