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India and Afghanistan envision a “new silk road”

Silk Road

There is a rich legacy of trade from India through the Middle East. The historic Silk Road was a highway of merchants and nomads that brought wealth and commerce to cities along the route. In an attempt to revitalize the trade corridor, India has been pushing for increased investment in Afghanistan. BBC reports on the new economic initiatives:

The Indian government is keen to emphasise the soft power side of its strategy, such as Thursday’s gathering at a plush Delhi hotel aimed at attracting more foreign investment into Afghanistan.

“Let the grey suits of businessmen take the place of the olive green fatigues of soldiers and generals in Afghanistan,” Indian Foreign Minister SM Krishna told a conference hall filled with would-be investors.

In financial terms, India is already one of the biggest players in Afghanistan.

It has pledged or spent some $2bn (£1.3bn) worth of aid over the last decade to build roads, power stations and even the Afghan parliament.

India has been rewarded with rights to mine Afghanistan prime iron ore reserves.

It is state companies who are leading the way so far though.

Private investors at the conference seemed to be doing more window-shopping rather than being ready to invest – with many nervous about events after the Nato pull-out.

Afghan officials at the Delhi meeting were talking of a “new silk road” between the two countries, even though Commerce Minister Anwar ul-Haq Ahadi admits Afghanistan is still “one of the riskiest places in the world to do business”.

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