20 Jul 2010

We'll take charge by 2014, Afghan president vows

9:46 pm on 20 July 2010

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has opened a major international conference in Kabul by saying his country will be ready to take responsibility for itself by 2014.

Mr Karzai promised nearly 40 foreign ministers from Nato and other states at the conference that his government would take on more responsibility in return for increased security.

Calling the conference - the largest hosted by the country in three decades - a "milestone in deepening international partnership", he said that despite noteworthy achievements the goal of establishing good government had been thwarted by the Taliban.

"We face a vicious common enemy that violates every Islamic and international norm to break our unity of effort," he said.

50% of foreign aid money sought

Mr Karzai asked the international community to increase to 50% the proportion of foreign aid money that flows through the Afghan government, the BBC reports.

In return, Afghan forces would seek to take the lead on security throughout the country by 2014. A board would review which of the 34 provinces are ready for Afghan forces to take the lead on security operations, probably from 2011 onwards.

To allow some of the 150,000 Nato-led troops in Afghanistan to withdraw, the army would have 170,000 soldiers by October 2011 and the police 134,000 officers. Up to 36,000 former militants would be reintegrated into the forces.

NZ's Foreign Minister there

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully is at the conference, along with the American Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and more than 60 others representing 70 countries.

Ms Clinton says everyone involved in Afghanistan needs to compare notes.

Only about 20% of international aid is distributed via the Afghan government. Before handing more over, the United States and its allies want to be sure that the government will tackle corruption and promote good governance.