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Afghanistan: UN mission welcomes result of international donors' conference

5 April 2004 Hailing the Berlin Declaration that followed last week's international conference on Afghanistan, the United Nations mission to the country said it welcomed the agreement of the world's donors to pledge double the amount offered in the Tokyo Conference two years ago.

A spokesman for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) told reporters at a briefing yesterday in Kabul that "it is remarkable" that the country could bring together delegations from more than 60 States, most led by their foreign ministers, for the conference in Berlin.

At the end of the two-day conference the international community pledged to give $8.2 billion to help Afghanistan with its reconstruction over the next three years, with $4.4 billion set aside for the first year.

UNAMA spokesman Edward Carwardine said this is twice the amount pledged at the Tokyo conference in January 2002, and comes just over two years after the Bonn Agreement, which mapped out the framework for Afghanistan's transition to stability and democracy following the fall of the Taliban regime.

He pointed out that the international community, while offering its support, recognizes Afghanistan must tackle several serious problems, including the burgeoning drug industry and factionalism.

"The window of opportunity is not closing but there is a lot of work that has to be undertaken by all of us, certainly by the Afghans," he said.

The Berlin Declaration, adopted after the conference, outlines Afghanistan's priorities over the short term, including stepping up efforts to disarm, demobilize and reintegrate factional groups before the national presidential and parliamentary elections, now scheduled for September.

It also stresses the importance of establishing the rule of law and a functioning judicial system, and calls for the reduction and eventual elimination of opium poppy cultivation.

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