July 7 - International donors gather to pledge 16 billion U.S. dollars in development aid for Afghanistan over the next four years. Sarah Charlton reports.
Major players in global security gather in Japan to discuss the future of Afghanistan. As war winds down, aid has been sought to prevent Afghanistan tipping back into chaos when foreign troops leave. Donors announced a pledge of $16 billion over the next four years. That amounts to $4 billion annually - but falls short of what the Afghan central bank says it needs. The pledge came with demands of wiping out corruption. SOUNDBITE: PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN, HAMID KARZAI, SAYING (English): "I recognize, ladies and gentlemen, that the success of our partnership will depend on our mutual ability to be accountable and to prove our practices so that the hard-earned money of your taxpayers are utilized most effectively and transparently." Officials from around 80 countries and organisations have showed up for the Tokyo conference. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. would vow to keep aid levels steady. SOUNDBITE: U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON, SAYING (English): "For our part, the United States will be working with Congress to provide assistance at or near the levels of the past decade through 2017, both to help secure Afghanistan's gains and to protect the already considerable investment that the United States has made -- not only in financial terms but in the sacrifice of our men and women in the past decade." Afghanistan remains one of the world's poorest nations. The average person only earns around $530 a year. The Afghan government has identified priority areas for development, including agriculture and mining, which they hope will drive future growth. Sarah Charlton, Reuters.