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Afghan Allies Pledge Long-Term Support

Source: VOA

World leaders have pledged long-term support to war-torn Afghanistan as international combat troops prepare to leave the country by 2014.

Some 100 nations and international organizations attended Monday's international conference, in the Germany city of Bonn, which was aimed at charting the course for the country's future.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. is ready to support Afghanistan, but the South Asian nation must carry through on reforms, take responsibility for its own security, and build a democracy rooted in the rule of law.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai told the conference that after the withdrawal of NATO troops from his country in 2014, Afghanistan will still need international help for at least another decade.

He said the Afghan government will work to fight corruption more effectively and further reform government institutions to render them more efficient, transparent, and accountable.

Pakistan, considered vital to any prospect of stability in Afghanistan, boycotted the one-day meeting in response to a cross-border attack by NATO late last month that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

Clinton said it was unfortunate that Pakistan didn't attend, but said she expected it to play a constructive role going forward.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan's western neighbor Iran, represented by Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, said it strongly condemned any foreign military bases in the country after 2014.

The talks in the former German capital focused on three key areas: the transfer of security responsibilities from international to Afghan forces, reconciliation with the Taliban, and long-term prospects for international aid.

No new aid pledges were expected at the meeting. However, the United States announced it would resume paying into the World Bank-administered Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, which it said would allow for the disbursement of more than $650 million in aid suspended over concerns about Afghanistan's troubled Kabul Bank.

... Payvand News - 12/06/11 ... --

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