- The Washington Times - Monday, June 19, 2006

Afghanistan Inc.

The ambassador from Afghanistan traveled to America’s heartland to promote his war-torn country as the “heart of Asia” and a good place to do business.

Although his homeland is struggling to rebuild after decades of conflict and neglect and U.S.-led troops are fighting a resurgent Taliban militia, Afghanistan is growing at double-digit rates and laying the legal groundwork to attract and retain foreign investment.

“Since the days of the Silk Road, Afghanistan’s unique location in the heart of Asia has made it a natural trade hub,” Ambassador Said T. Jawad said on a visit to universities in Illinois earlier this month.

“Our two most important assets are our location and our people. Afghanistan is a land bridge connecting emerging markets with energy sources in Central Asia.”

In his region, “all roads lead to Afghanistan,” he said on a visit to the state capital, Springfield.

Mr. Jawad said Afghanistan is growing at a rate of more than 10 percent a year and is recognized by the World Bank as the 16th easiest country in the world in which to open a business.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• Foreign Minister Anna Fotyga of Poland, who meets Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley, Polish-American members of Congress and representatives from the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Tomorrow she meets with Vice President Dick Cheney, Sen. Richard G. Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Rep. Henry J. Hyde, chairman of the House International Relations Committee.

• Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos of Spain, who holds a 10:15 a.m. press conference in Room 122 of the Cannon House Office Building to announce the formation of a congressional Spanish caucus. He also meets Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

• Bob Carr, former premier of New South Wales, Australia, who discusses U.S.-Australian relations at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

• Bjorn Lomborg, director of Denmark’s Copenhagen Consensus Center, who holds a 10 a.m. press conference at the National Press Club to release a report on a weekend summit of 10 ambassadors at the United Nations.

Wednesday

• Liu Xuecheng of the China Institute of International Studies, Cao Heping of China’s Yunnan University; and C.V. Ranganathan, former Indian ambassador to China. They address the Asia Foundation on relations between China, India and the United States.

Thursday

• Julie Bishop, Australia’s minister for education, science and training, who addresses the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

• Kamal Nath, India’s minister for commerce and industry, who discusses global trade at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

• Sallama Shaker, assistant foreign minister of Egypt, who addresses the Women’s Foreign Policy Group.

Friday

• Mukhtar Ahmed, energy adviser to the prime minister of Pakistan; Shahid Javed Burki, former Pakistani finance minister; Zaffar Khan of the Karachi Stock Exchange; and Asad Umar of Engro Chemical Pakistan Ltd. They participate in a forum on energy issues in Pakistan at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

• Ekaterina Sokirianskaia of the Russian human rights organization Memorial, a specialist on political Islam in the Caucasus; Syed Tauqir Hussain Shah of the International Labor Organization in Islamabad, Pakistan; Ihsan Dagi of the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey; Simeon Evstatiev of Sofia University and the Center for Intercultural Studies and Partnership in Bulgaria. They discuss Islam in Europe in a seminar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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