Speaking to a group of UK businesspeople about investment opportunities in his country, Mr Karzai touted the “immediate” returns to be made from investments in such sectors as construction, energy, telecoms and mining.

However, with regards to mining, Mr Karzai told his audience that European investors might already be too late because Chinese and Korean companies had rushed in and nabbed first-mover advantages in this nascent and potentially lucrative sector.

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The event was hosted by the British Consultants and Construction Bureau. It included talks by Afghanistan’s ministers of economy and public works as well as the president’s senior economic adviser, the acting chief of staff to the minister of commerce and a representative from the Afghanistan Investment Support Agency.