Five-year Afghan security goal welcomed

Thursday 28 January 2010 20.06
Brown & Karzai - One-day conference in London
Brown & Karzai - One-day conference in London

World powers have welcomed Afghanistan's plan to take responsibility for its security within five years, according to a final communiqué issued after a major conference in London.

The conference aims to chart the way forward in Afghanistan.

'Conference participants... welcomed the government of Afghanistan's stated goal of the ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) taking the lead and conducting the majority of operations in the insecure areas of Afghanistan within three years, and taking responsibility for physical security within five years,' it said.

Afghanistan said it planned to hold a meeting of elders later this year as part of efforts to end its war with the Taliban.

In a communiqué issued at the end of an international conference on Afghanistan, it also committed to trying to reintegrate into society Taliban fighters who were prepared to renounce violence and sever ties with al-Qaeda.

World powers also agreed that international aid delivered through the Afghan government will be increased to 50% in two years, but only if Kabul acts to fight corruption and improve governance.

That support 'is conditional on the government's progress in further strengthening public financial management systems, reducing corruption, improving budget execution, developing a financial strategy and government capacity towards the goal,' it said.

The Taliban has dismissed the London Afghan conference as a propaganda ploy, saying that the summit will fail to produce results.

Earlier, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the international community must aim to turn the tide in Afghanistan by the middle of next year.

He told a 60-nation conference that both Afghan and international forces would be strengthened and a new fund set up to win over Taliban fighters who severed ties with al-Qaeda and renounced violence.

NATO allies hope this, combined with a fresh commitment to development and the influx of an extra 30,000 US troops, will break a stalemate in a war now into its ninth year.

'By the middle of next year, we have to turn the tide in the fight against the insurgency,' Mr Brown told the conference.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on Saudi Arabia to play a prominent role in bringing peace to Afghanistan.

He also called on neighbouring countries, particularly Pakistan, to support efforts to achieve peace.

'We hope his majesty (Saudi) King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz will kindly play a prominent role to guide and assist the peace process,' he added.

The high-level event was convened in an effort to draw up a blueprint for Afghan forces to gradually take over responsibility for growing areas of their country.

This would pave the way for the eventual withdrawal of international troops, who have been in the country since 2001.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown co-hosted the conference with Mr Karzai and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Those invited to take part in the conference included foreign ministers from the countries making up the NATO mission, Afghanistan's immediate neighbours and key regional players.