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Disjointed communiqué expected at Afghan conference

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, Jan 28, IRNA -- The international community is committed to working with the government of Afghanistan to achieve “shared long-term goals,” according to a draft communiqué to be agreed at London Conference on Afghanistan Thursday.

The six-page draft being discussed by delegates from 68 countries and international organisations includes great imponderables to achieve peace and stability more than eight years after US-led forces helped to overthrow the Taliban regime.

Building a stable and secure Afghanistan is a long-term plan and the communiqué is expected to include proposals for at least five provinces to be returned to Afghan control by early 2011.

But according to sources at the conference, the final document is unlikely to refer to 'withdrawal' as Afghan officials are deeply concerned western forces will remove their troops prematurely.

It is also likely to avoid setting out the indicative timetables for the drawdown of troops, even though both Britain and the US want to see this as soon as possible, the sources told IRNA.

Another controversial issue is the establishment and control of a "reintegration fund" aimed to encourage what is being termed as “non-ideological” Taliban fighters to defect.

There appeared to be no consensus on exactly how the fund will be used, whether payments will be to establish local defence forces or for economic development in the agricultural or other sectors as an alternative livelihood.

“The international community is confronted with uncertainty about how to kick-start the transition period in Afghanistan with so many unanswered questions,” one source at the conference said.

The communiqué includes a framework for security, reintegration, economic development and dealing with endemic corruption but was said to offer little substance.

Opening the conference, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said it was a “decisive time for the international cooperation that is helping the Afghan people secure and govern their own country."

Brown was joined by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who urged Afghan President Hamid Karzai to "take the lead on transferring commitments into reality."

For his part, Karzai pledged to "work hard," saying that his government was “determined to put an end to the culture of impunity” with regard to corruption and move “along the path of rule of law and democracy."

But few at the conference appeared willing to voice with great confidence that the outcome will lead to any real reduction in tensions between the Afghan government and the international community.

At most, the final communiqué was expected to be vague and disjointed, papering over difference of opinion and uncertainty about the way ahead.


End News / IRNA / News Code 925181

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