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09KABUL2943 2009-09-24 08:33:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Kabul
Cable title:  

Afghan Commerce Minister to Visit Washington (Oct. 4-9)

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1. Please note action request in para 5.

2. (SBU) Commerce Minister Wahidullah Shahrani plans to travel to
Washington October 4 through 9. He is looking to schedule meetings
with top USG officials and members of Congress during his first two
full days in Washington as well as around his participation in a
private-sector conference on Central Asia (October 7), a Central
Asian Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council
meeting (October 8), which he will attend as an observer, and the
Afghan-U.S. TIFA meeting (October 9). The Minister returns to Kabul
late October 9.

3. (SBU) Minister Shahrani told emboffs September 23 that he has
requested a meeting with SRAP Holbrooke and Commerce Secretary Locke
through the Afghan Embassy's Commercial Attache. Shahrani is
interested in talking with SRAP Holbrooke about the
Afghanistan/Pakistan transit trade agreement and also about the next
U.S/Afghanistan/Pakistan trilateral meeting. Minister Shahrani has
also requested meetings with D/S Jacob Lew, whom he was not able to
meet during the Deputy Secretary's visit earlier in September
because of a ministerial meeting in Manila, to discuss the transit
trade agreement.

3. (U) Minister Shahrani seeks meetings as well with USTR
Ambassador Kirk and with OPIC Acting President Spinelli. With Mr.
Spinelli he looks to discuss investment opportunities in
Afghanistan. Shahrani noted he also plans to meet with World Bank
officers in connection with the Bank's ongoing private sector
development programs.

4. (U) In addition, Shahrani seeks meetings with members of
Congress, particularly to discuss the Reconstruction Opportunity
Zones (ROZs). Shahrani said his Embassy is arranging congressional
meetings, including with Congressman Howard Coble (R-NC) and Nita
Lowey (D-NY), whom he has previously met. Shahrani, who is an
articulate spokesman on Afghan trade and industry issues and who has
been following closely the pending Reconstruction Opportunity Zone
(ROZ) legislation, is interested in meeting with other members of
Congress as well.

5. (SBU) Shahrani is reformist, pro-growth, and pro-market.
Washington agencies will find him an articulate interlocutor on
Afghanistan's current economic situation, on transit and other
regional trade issues, and on the commercial opportunities in the
country. Embassy recommends the appointments he seeks and would
also encourage the Department work to arrange a broader spectrum of
meetings with interested members of Congress.