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Donors pledge over $16 billion in aid to Afghanistan

10 July 2012 No Comment

Donor countries on Sunday pledged a total of over $16 billion in development aid for Afghanistan through 2015 to help it achieve self-reliance after most foreign combat troops leave.

In establishing a new framework of mutual commitments between donors and the Afghan government at a conference in Tokyo, the international community also promised to maintain the amount of aid for Afghanistan through 2017 at around the same levels as over the last 10 years.

“While there are still many challenges for Afghanistan, there is no doubt that an environment to enable future development has been created over the last 10 years,” Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said.

“Based on this foundation, we can sow more promising seeds of peace and hope, and nurture the bud so that flowers of great reconstruction will bloom,” Noda said.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi were among the participants at the one-day conference, attended by around 80 countries and international organizations.

Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba, Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul and Afghan Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal co-chaired the conference.

“The Afghan government will commit to faithfully implement its growth strategy and improve governance in specific areas,” Gemba told the meeting. “To reciprocate this commitment, the international community will commit to specific assistance for Afghanistan’s growth strategy. This is the Tokyo Framework.”

The development conference came after North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries agreed in Chicago in May to provide $4.1 billion a year beyond 2014 to finance Afghan security forces.

Donor countries this time focused on how to ensure the sustainable development of Afghanistan over the next decade after the transfer of security responsibilities from international troops to Afghan authorities scheduled to be completed at the end of 2014.

The amount of money announced in the Tokyo Declaration is in line with the budgetary shortfall of Afghanistan estimated by the World Bank, which says that the war-torn country will need $3.3 billion to $3.9 billion in the first three years of the so-called transformation decade.

In exchange for the aid, Afghanistan pledged to fight corruption, conduct fair elections, protect human rights and raise government revenues, among other requirements, under the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework.

“I assure you, ladies and gentleman, that we will remain steadfast in our commitments in this historic partnership,” Karzai said.

The next ministerial meeting on Afghan aid will be co-chaired by Afghanistan and Britain in 2014.

As for Japan, Gemba said it will provide up to $3 billion of assistance to Afghanistan in about five years from 2012, placing greater focus on the agricultural sector, in which around 80 percent of the country’s labor force is engaged, and the development of infrastructure and human resources.

Of the aid, $2.2 billion will likely be spent on Afghan development and be part of the $16 billion pledged by the international community, while the remainder will be used for security purposes, such as paying the salaries of the Afghan police, according to Japanese officials.

However, the $3 billion does not include any aid in addition to that pledged by Japan in 2009, according to the officials.

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