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Karzai's Afghan dreams take wings

Last updated on: January 29, 2010 00:44 IST

The security of all provinces will be under Afghan leadership within five years.  This was the pledge made in London on Thursday at a conference aimed at aligning the international community with the reintegration plan set out by President Hamid Karzai.

More than 70 countries and international organisations represented at the conference, including the UN, agreed to support a province-by-province phased integration of Afghan security into the region. Key areas are expected to be controlled by Afghan forces as early as the end of the year.

2010 was described as a 'decisive year' by UK Foreign Minister David Miliband.

The communiqué also outlined targets to increase the Afghan Army to 171, 000 and the police to 134, 000 to aid Karzai's aims of an 'Afghan-led, Afghan-run' nation. The numbers are expected to be reached by the end of 2011, taking the countries security forces to over 300,000.

Earlier in the conference British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, expressed the need for growth in Afghan forces in order to be 'a presence much bigger than our own coalition forces'.

While the national forces will increase, President Karzai said this morning, he expects foreign forces to remain in the country for up to 15 years to sustain the efforts made by the Afghans.

World leaders pledged more than $140 million to assist the reintegration of Taliban members who had broken ties with Al-Qaeda into society.

Foreign secretary Miliband refuted the idea that this money was just to 'win over' Taliban officials to the other side as President Karzai announced plans to encourage Taliban members to begin peace talks.

Opening communication lines with the Taliban was high on the agenda with Karzai urging the UN to de-list more former Taliban officials from its sanctions list.

Dr Rangin Dadfar Spanta said de-listing is a 'confidence building measure' but that it would only work if matched by co-operation from the other side.

Tackling corruption was noted as a priority for good governance by President Karzai. The summit laid out plans for the establishment of an independent Office of High Oversight and an independent Monitoring and Evaluation Mission.

Afghanistan, it was announced, now qualifies for $1.6 billion in debt relief through the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative. This announcement was made by the IMF and World Bank.

Despite violence in the region, Afghanistan has shown considerable economic growth. Once corruption is weeded out and conditions for aid are met the proportion of aid channelled through the government will rise to 50% which is hoped to develop infrastructure and agriculture in the region.

Foreign secretary Miliband said the biggest deliverable arising from the conference was the 'unity and coherence' by the foreign community in supporting Afghanistan achieve its aims.

The conference will be followed up in Kabul in a few months where progress will be measured and further plans for delivery will be put into place.

Also read Angelica Jopson's other despatches from the London conference: 

Foreign troops may be in Afghan for 15 years: Karzai

Back reconciliation plans, Karzai to Pak



Angelica Jopson in London