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Huge money offered to wean away Taliban militants

An international conference on Afghanistan opened in London on Thursday with the establishment of a multi-million dollar trust fund to wean away Taliban militants who renounce violence.

world Updated: Jan 28, 2010 20:56 IST

An international conference on Afghanistan opened in London on Thursday with the establishment of a multi-million dollar trust fund to wean away Taliban militants who renounce violence.

The offer of financial inducements to Taliban foot soldiers was coupled with a pledge by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to defeat the Al Qaeda "any and everywhere".

Brown told ministers from some 70 countries, including Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna, that the fund will offer a "way forward to those prepared to renounce violence, abandon past activities and choose to join the political process".

Those funds will be offered under a peace and reintegration programme to insurgents who are prepared to renounce violence, cut ties with the Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, and respect the Afghan constitution.

The announcement of the Trust Fund, reportedly worth $500 million, followed the removal of five former Taliban militants from a UN sanctions list.

They include Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil, a former foreign minister and confidant of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar.

Muttawakil was the Taliban foreign minister when an Indian Airlines flight was hijacked to Kandahar in Afghanistan on Christmas eve in 1999. He claims to have facilitated the hostage exchange.

Alongside, Brown said the number of Afghan National Army troops will rise to 171,600 and police to 134,000 by October 2011, taking the total number of national security forces to 300,000.

Brown declared: "Today our message to Al Qaeda must be clear. It is the same message we send to all those who pursue violent and extremist ideologies: We will defeat you and we will defeat you not just on the battlefield but in the hearts and minds of the peoples of this world. And we will defeat you in any and every country where you seek refuge."

He said the world community will need "more international police trainers" to facilitate the Afghanisation process, and that the number of military mentoring teams was being doubled in April this year.