29 Nov 2009

Afghan president to be set international targets

10:25 am on 29 November 2009

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown says Afghanistan's president will be set targets by the international community for training Afghan forces and tackling corruption.

Mr Brown said Hamid Karzai would be expected to give commitments at a conference in London on 28 January.

The prime minister confirmed the international conference plans at the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit in Trinidad and Tobago at the weekend, the BBC reports.

Mr Karzai will face targets of ensuring 50,000 troops for training and barring corrupt provincial governors, he said.

Mr Brown made the announcement alongside United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

They will be joined in London by Mr Karzai, who was recently installed for a second term as president, and representatives of the 43 nations making up Nato's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

Mr Brown also made it clear that international troop levels would rise in the short term.

United States President Barack Obama is expected to announce a decision on reinforcements for Afghanistan on Tuesday.

Pay rise for Afghan police

Afghanistan announced a pay rise of nearly 40% for police and military recruits on Saturday, as Western countries aim to increase the size and quality of Afghan security forces so their own troops can go home.

Interior Minister Hanif Atmar said monthly salaries would increase by $US45 to about $US165 for a new recruit. At present, there are about 95,000 Afghan soldiers and 93,000 police, Reuters reports.

"We have an Afghanistan that will be able to defend itself with its own national security forces," Mr Atmar said.

Afghanistan depends on funds from the United States and other Western countries for large budgetary expenses such as military and police salaries.

A NATO training mission is working to expand the Afghan army to 134,000 soldiers by October 2010.

In addition to increasing the numbers, the quality of the forces need to be improved, especially the police force, which is plagued by corruption, desertion and high turnover.

Under the new pay scale, police officers will be eligible for pay increases throughout their careers, and those serving in dangerous areas will earn a bonus.