The agreement was reached “after long negotiations,” Baradar said at the signing. He added that he hoped the development would be “another step” to encourage international investment in Afghanistan to ease the country’s “suffering.”
“This will open the door for other countries” to invest, he said. “All countries that are interested in investment in Afghanistan, we can guarantee their security.”
Afghanistan’s main international airport in Kabul was ransacked in August as the city’s security forces melted away and Taliban fighters took control of the capital.
Thousands of Afghans desperate to flee destroyed critical machinery such as radar and communications equipment, forcing nearly all international commercial airlines to suspend flights to Afghanistan.
The handover of control of the facility to a company with the technological expertise to repair and operate an international airport could be the first step toward the resumption of international flights more than nine months since the Taliban takeover.
Currently Afghan carriers Ariana and Kam Air are the only airlines that fly internationally.
Qatar initially provided engineering teams to partially repair some navigation and radio systems that allowed for Afghan airlines to resume service. But without fully functioning radar, the insurance costs associated with using Kabul airport make commercial use largely unviable.
Afghanistan is battling a spiraling economic crisis and some Taliban officials have called for international investment to ease unemployment and inflation. But for most companies and banks, the international economic sanctions on Taliban leaders are the most significant barrier to investment.
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