DONORS led by the United States pledged more than $15.54 billion (€10bn) in aid for Afghanistan, but said Kabul must do more to fight corruption and the international assistance must be better co-ordinated.
At a conference in Paris, Washington promised $10.2bn to help one of the world’s poorest countries deal with an insurgency, poverty, drug trafficking and corruption, more than six years after US-led forces ousted the Taliban from power.
About 6,000 people were killed last year in the insurgency by a rejuvenated Taliban, which has vowed to step up a campaign of suicide bombings to try to break the will of Western public opinion to keep international forces in Afghanistan.
More than 50,000 foreign troops are based in the country, trying to restore stability following the 2001 ousting of the Taliban, which had hosted al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
“Afghanistan was taken hostage by a regime allied to terrorism, a regime that represents the very negation of the values of Islam,” said French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the start of the conference of 68 nations, including Afghanistan.
“It is the duty of all democrats to help you,” Sarkozy told Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the start of the meeting, attended by representatives from more than 15 international organisations, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Afghanistan asked the donors to help fund a $50bn five-year development plan and Karzai told the conference that his country needed aid to be better co-ordinated, as well as giving more help in institution-building to fight corruption.
Among the pledges, Britain promised $1.2bn, the World Bank about $1.1bn, while Germany pledged $648 million.
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