The West used an Afghanistan meeting on Monday to signal enduring support for Kabul as allied troops go home, but economic downturn in Europe and crises with Pakistan and Iran could stir doubts about Western resolve.
The goal is to leave behind an Afghan government strong enough to escape the fate of its Soviet-era predecessor, which collapsed in 1992 in a civil war. The country’s allies are preparing increasingly for a scenario in which there is no peace settlement with the Taliban before most foreign combat troops leave in 2014.
“The United States intends to stay the course with our friends in Afghanistan,” US secretary of state Hillary Clinton told the conference. “We will be there with you as you make the hard decisions that are necessary for your future.”
Participating nations were to pledge their support for an inclusive Afghan-led reconciliation process on condition that any outcome must reject violence, terrorism and endorse the Afghan constitution and its guarantee of human rights.
Hosts Germany sought to signal Western staying power as the gathering of dozens of foreign ministers opened in the German city of Bonn. “We send a clear message to the people of Afghanistan: We will not leave you on your own. We will not leave you in the lurch,” said German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.
Pakistan boycotted the meeting after Nato aircraft killed 24 of its soldiers on the border with Afghanistan in attack the alliance called a “tragic” accident.
(With AP inputs)