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U.S. Official Visits Afghanistan

September 21, 2002

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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) _ A senior U.S. Treasury official arrived in Afghanistan Saturday for a four-day visit to discuss reconstruction efforts with the government and the upcoming introduction of a new Afghan currency.

U.S. Treasury Undersecretary John Taylor will meet Afghan Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani and other officials in the capital, Kabul, before traveling Tuesday to the western city of Herat, embassy spokesman Alberto Fernandez said.

Fernandez said the visit would ``demonstrate U.S. support for Afghanistan in the economic and financial sectors.″

Plans to issue a new currency were announced earlier this month. The new bank notes, which authorities hope will boost economic growth and small transactions easier by eliminating the stacks of bills used now, are supposed to be introducted Oct. 7.

Herat is an area of Afghanistan run by the warlord Ismail Kahn. The United States is vying with Iran for influence in the region.

Taylor and Khan are expected to discuss a $180 million road project that would connect Kabul to Kandahar to Herat. The project, jointly funded by the United States, Japan and Saudi Arabia, is expected to start in January. It’s expected to be finished within three years.

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