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Paris Conference Yields $21 Billion for Afghanistan's Development

Representatives of more than 65 countries and 15 international organizations met in Paris on June 12 to outline donor contributions to Afghanistan for the next year. The meeting, which was hosted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, yielded some $21 billion for Afghanistan's development projects, the majority coming from the United States.

First Lady Laura Bush was on hand to announce the United States contribution of more than $10 billion. "Afghanistan has reached a decisive moment for its future. We must not turn our backs on this opportunity," she stated. (See here for a breakdown of country contributions.)

The Afghan delegation, led by President Hamid Karzai, came to Paris both to present the

country's five-year national development strategy, the ANDS, and stress the importance of the international community's continued engagement in Afghanistan. "Afghanistan’s achievements over the past six and half years amount to a major transformation," he noted in a speech. "There is, however, a long way still to go before our country achieves lasting peace, sustainable development, and an enduring democratic system of government."

Important Resources:

President Hamid Karzai's Speech

Declaration of the International Conference in Support of Afghanistan

White House Fact Sheet on U.S. Contribution to Afghanistan

Breakdown of Country Pledges to Afghanistan

Information on the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS)

Key Development Achievements in Afghanistan

Op-Ed on Paris Conference by Foreign Minister Dr. Rangin Spanta

Many in the international community expressed concerns over the spending of aid money in Afghanistan. It is estimated that around 40 percent of governmental contributions return to their country of origin in the form of consultant fees and profits. Further, the government of Afghanistan only handles a fraction of the money flowing into the country.

President Karzai expressed his concern about the nature of international aid, saying, "While Afghanistan needs large amounts of aid, precisely how that aid is spent is just as important." German Foreign Minister Frank Walter echoed these sentiments, noting, "It is only by combating corruption and strengthening rule of law that our commitment will be efficient."

President Karzai called for a longer five-year $50 billion contract to ensure a stable, coordinated and effective aid strategy. He emphasized the challenges to Afghanistan and argued the nation needs "adequate, long term and predictable support."

In his speech, President Karzai placed special emphasis on infrastructure as a means toward sustainable economic development. If the ANDS is implemented, the plan would bring Afghanistan more paved roads, better water management, and greater access to electricity.

Already, development efforts in Afghanistan have built or rehabilitated 2,700 kilometers of roads, refurbished or constructed more than 680 schools and built or renovated 670 health facilities.

While the five-year commitment President Karzai was seeking failed to materialize, the international community more than met expectations for spending this year and pledged their support for aid reform and measures to strengthen the Afghan government.

"What brings us together today is a concern for the destiny of a nation that has emerged from a dark past," said Karzai.

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