- Title: World powers raise $15 bln for Afghanistan at EU-led donors' conference
- Date: 6th October 2016
- Summary: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (OCTOBER 5, 2016) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF EUROPEAN COUNCIL BUILDING, WHERE DONORS CONFERENCE TOOK PLACE EU FLAG FLYING ARMED SOLDIERS OUTSIDE EU COUNCIL BUILDING FLAGS OF EU MEMBER STATES AND BANNER, READING (English): "BRUSSELS CONFERENCE ON AFGHANISTAN; 4-5 OCTOBER 2016"
- Embargoed: 21st October 2016 09:10
- Keywords: EU Afghanistan donors development security peace talks migrants crisis Mogherini Ghani Mimica
- Location: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- City: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- Country: Belgium
- Topics: Overseas Development Aid,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00152QD3D3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:World powers raised $15 billion for Afghanistan on Wednesday (October 5) to fund the country over the next four years, while the European Union said it won support to revive a stalled peace process after almost 40 years of conflict.
With the government in Kabul facing a resurgent Taliban 15 years after U.S. forces helped oust the militants, more than 70 governments in Brussels led by the United States and the European Union promised more financial support for a country that governments see as strategic to global security.
"For the period 2017-2010, international partners commit and confirm their intention to provide 15.2 billion U.S. dollars in support of Afghanistan's development priorities. We particularly welcome the contribution from new donors to Afghanistan as well as the announcement of bilateral assistance," said Neven Mimica, the EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development in his closing statement.
Afghanistan is required to sign up to a host of political, economic and social reforms in return for the money.
Speaking after the meeting, EU Foreign policy Chief Federica Mogherini welcomed the outcome of the meeting and said the money will have to be translated into various development projects in Afghanistan.
"I think we have finally realised that either we are strong together or we are all losing together. And this is why I think Afghanistan is receiving today, as you said, a credit that needs now our common work to be translated into projects that change the life of the Afghan people. This is the aim," Mogherini told reporters at a joint news conference with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
Most contentious, the European Union wants Kabul to take back its nationals who are not considered refugees, although EU donor money is not linked to such demands.
European governments, facing increasing opposition from voters to immigration at home, have pressed Afghanistan to accept more repatriations, saying that many parts of the country, including the capital Kabul, are safe.
Commenting on the sharp criticism the policy received from aid groups and others who point to the widening Taliban insurgency across the country and the frequent suicide attacks that hit Kabul, Mogherini said repatriation would not concern Afghans who gained refugee status.
"I know there is a lot of attention in the European public opinion and also in Afghanistan on different sides on the part of the agreement that concerns returns and reintegration. It has not at all to do with refugees. This would be against international law and European law. So, it's only referring to Afghans that are present on the European Union territory without a legal basis for that, which means without an asylum procedure or without having asked for asylum or having been rejected asylum," Mogherini said.
On the margins of the conference, the EU focused on getting peace negotiations back on track by bringing together the United States, China, India, and Pakistan at a dinner on Tuesday night.
There have been several attempts in recent years to broker a settlement between the Western-backed government in Kabul and the Taliban, but all have failed. Without the militants at the table, experts say it is hard to envisage a meaningful solution.
However, difficulties abound. Pakistan continues to harbour Afghan Taliban, the United States says. India is unconvinced the militants have changed, judging by the way they rule the 10 percent of Afghan territory they control, one official said.
Hope was briefly raised in 2015 when Taliban officials met the Afghan government in neighbouring Pakistan, but that process was short lived, and the Taliban insist that foreign forces must leave Afghanistan before peace talks can begin.
Militants briefly reached the centre of the northern city of Kunduz on Monday, and they are testing the defences of two other provincial capitals in the south of the country.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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