Afghan President hails aid, calls for help on graft

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai on Monday hailed international donors for pledging $16 billion in aid to the war-torn nation, but called for more help to clamp down on corruption.

"I'd like to thank all of those countries, all of those organisations that have pledged support for Afghanistan," Karzai told a press briefing in Tokyo, after a conference in the Japanese capital on Sunday.

Karzai said Afghanistan was rebuilding its civil service and other social and economic infrastructure after three decades of turmoil, but added "it is not only the Afghan government that should work and succeed" in fighting graft.

"We cannot succeed without... cooperation from international donors as well," he added.

Donors and Afghan officials must ensure that the aid is dispersed fairly with infrastructure and other development projects being chosen and contracted out in a transparent way, he said.

Karzai's comments followed the pledge Sunday for billions of dollars in aid for Afghanistan through 2015, which was aimed at preventing the country from sliding back into turmoil when foreign combat troops depart in 2014.

But donors called on Kabul to implement a series of reforms in exchange for the money, including boosting rights for women and fighting graft.

Sunday's conference hosted representatives from about 80 nations, including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

The deal is meant to plug the gap between what Kabul gets from its barely-functioning economy and what it needs to develop into a stable country, with Kabul only covering about a third of the $6 billion it spends each year.

Karzai was to meet Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda later in the day.

 

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