Mon, Jul 09, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Donors pledge US$16bn Afghan aid at Tokyo meet

AFP, TOKYO

Donor nations yesterday pledged US$16 billion for Afghanistan to prevent turmoil in the country from getting worse when foreign combat troops depart, but called on Kabul to implement reforms to fight graft.

A statement at the closing of a conference in Tokyo confirmed donors would stump up US$16 billion in civilian aid through 2015, with several pre-conditions including a clampdown on corruption.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai was in the Japanese capital along with US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for talks focused on the so-called “transformation decade” after the NATO drawdown.

“[The agreement] established a renewed, stronger foundation for partnership to support sustainable growth and development of Afghanistan throughout the transformation decade,” the statement said.

Yesterday’s conference hosted representatives from about 80 nations and international organizations in a gathering aimed at adopting the “Tokyo Declaration,” pledging support and cash for the turmoil-wracked nation.

The deal is meant to plug the gap between what Kabul gets from its barely functioning economy and what it needs to develop into a stable country.

Afghanistan covers only a third of the US$6 billion it spends each year, not counting security costs, and has for a long time been heavily dependent on aid.

There are fears that once the US and its allies no longer have to worry about their soldiers dying in Afghanistan after the 2014 pullout, the country could be left to drift into the hands of drug lords and extremists.

The deal calls for a monitoring mechanism, and follow-up ministerial meetings every two years, to ensure Afghanistan was on the right track with respect to holding democratic elections, fighting corruption and promoting human rights.

The statement added that participants “renewed their firm determination to combat terrorism and extremism in all their forms and never to allow Afghanistan to become a sanctuary for international terrorism again.”

Afghan Minister of Foreign Affairs Zalmai Rassoul said Kabul would make good on its commitments.

“The Afghan government will deliver,” he told a news briefing. “We are talking about the future. We are not talking about the past, and there is no choice. That is the duty that the Afghan government will deliver,” Rassoul said.

Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Koichiro Gemba said the deal sent the “strategic message that Afghanistan can continue to develop sustainably and in a self-reliant way in a post 2014 period.”

According to the World Bank, spending on defense and development by foreign donors accounted for more than 95 percent of GDP in 2010 and last year.

In May, an Afghanistan security conference in Chicago involving the countries of the NATO-led coalition adopted a plan to provide US$4.1 billion in annual security aid in coming years.

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