The conference, which will be co-chaired by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, will essentially evaluate the progress made at the earlier conference in Kabul in December last year, where 11 regional nations, the G-8 and the several international organisations pledged to help reconstruct the war-ravaged country.
As part of the conference, India's External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Afghan Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Rangin Dadfar Spanta will co-chair a meeting on strengthening regional cooperation mechanisms and capacities.
The countries that have been invited include Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, the UAE, UK, the US and Uzbekistan.
Pakistan and the US, both nations with a deep and at times conflicting interest in Afghanistan, have decided to send middle level officials for the meeting. US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has sent Assistant Secretary of State Richard A Boucher as her representative. And instead of foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, Pakistan will be represented by by Minister of State for Economic Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar.
The international organisations invited include the Asian Development Bank, the Aga Khan Development Network, the European Commission, the European Council, Internation Monetary Fund, the Secretary-Generalsof the Economic Cooperation Organisation, SAARC and the UNDP, the UN Secretary General and the World Bank. US Secretary General Kofi Annan has decided to send Tom Koenings, his Special Representative in Afghanistan.
In order to attract private sector investment in Afghanistan, the three main Indian chambers of commerce, the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India, have also organised several meetings in association with Afghanistan Investment Support Agency to coincide with the event.
According to a statement issued by the ministry of external affairs, 'It is hoped that the conference will be able to focus on areas of interest, not only to Afghanistan, but also to the neighbours, as that will be crucial for the success of the regional cooperation initiative.
'In the past, it has been felt that the regional countries have not shown sufficient interest in this initiative. Hopefully, with the identification of practical projects, which would have commercial incentives for the regional countries as well, their interest will be simulated. Moreover, cooperation in aspects like border management; trade and transit agreements; power purchase agreements; skilled labour import agreements, etc. will necessarily bring benefits to the region as a whole.'