ECONOMIC COOPERATION ORGANIZATION HOLDS ITS FIRST MEETING IN KABUL

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MOSCOW/KABUL, April 18 ( RIA Novosti). A two-day meeting of the trade ministers of the ten member-countries of the regional Economic Cooperation Organization is beginning its work in Kabul on Sunday.

Kabul attaches great importance to this meeting, the administration of Afghan provisional president Hamid Karzai reported over the telephone.

"Hosting for the first time an ECO meeting in our country, we are trying thereby to draw the attention of the ECO participants to the economic difficulties being experienced by Afghanistan. We hope that after this meeting the ECO participants will take a more active part in the restoration of the Afghan economy," said the agency's interlocutor.

The participants in the meeting will discuss the intensification of trade-economic cooperation, restoration of Afghanistan and attraction of foreign investments to this country. The meeting will also solve the question of creating the organization's standing body - the chamber of commerce.

The ECO (the initial name was Economic Cooperation for Development) was created in 1964 and united Pakistan, Iran and Turkey. Under the new name, the organization has been functioning since 1985. In 1992 Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenia, Uzbekistan - former Soviet republics which became independent, as well as Afghanistan joined the organization. Its new charter was also adopted then.

The ECO's main aim is developing regional cooperation in the field of economics, trade, tourism and cultural ties.

Before, the activity of the organization was impeded by the civil war in Afghanistan, through which the main roads connecting the ECO member-states pass.

The international conference on Afghanistan held early in April in Berlin (it was attended by over 700 delegates from 60 countries), the donor countries allocated $8, 300,000,000 for the restoration of the Afghan economy for the next three years.

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