Key Afghan conference to be held in Kabul amid tight security
Amid tight security, some 70 world leaders, including External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, will brainstorm in Kabul on the future of Afghanistan, which stands at a "critical turning point" in its efforts to achieve lasting peace, security and stability.world Updated: Jul 18, 2010 18:56 IST
Amid tight security, some 70 world leaders, including External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, will brainstorm here on the future of Afghanistan, which stands at a "critical turning point" in its efforts to achieve lasting peace, security and stability.
The International Conference on Afghanistan on July 20, the largest gathering of foreign leaders in the war-torn nation since the 1970s, will take place amid a spurt in suicide bombings and attacks by Taliban on US-led NATO forces, which has suffered the deadliest single month in June when its 79 soldiers died.
The conference is a follow-up to a London summit in January, when donors pledged some USD 160 million for Afghanistan's plans to reintegrate and create jobs for Taliban fighters who renounce violence.
Hosted by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the meeting is expected to deliberate and endorse an Afghan government-led plan to improve security, ensure good governance and crack down on corruption that has plagued the country.
The Kabul conference is taking place at a time when the Karzai government is working on a Peace and Reconciliation scheme aimed at bringing Taliban elements into the mainstream.
Facing nine years of Taliban insurgency, Karzai is pressing to reconcile with all the insurgent groups, including the dreaded Haqqani network and Taliban no. 2 Mullah Baradar, as a way to end the war and consolidate his own grip on power.
At the meeting, Karzai is expected to announce a timetable for a "conditions-based and phased transition," the British media reported today, quoting parts of a leaked communique to be issued at the end of conference here on Tuesday.
The document, The Independent newspaper claims, states the withdrawal of NATO troops is to begin within months, with the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) taking control of military operations by the end of 2014.
"The international community expressed its support for Afghanistan President's objective that the ANSF should lead and conduct military operations in all provinces by the end of 2014," it says.
The Obama administration hopes to start the process of withdrawing its soldiers in July 2011. The Taliban have repeatedly turned down past peace overtures from Karzai, saying they will engage in peace talks only when all of the 140,000 foreign troops leave Afghanistan.
A number of foreign ministers, including Clinton, Krishna, British Foreign Secretary William Hague and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon are attending the meeting.
Krishna is expected to underline India's commitment to provide help to Afghanistan for its nation-building. India has given USD 1.3 billion as assistance to Afghanistan to build its infrastructure as well as in areas like health, education and agriculture.