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Annan appeals for aid to Afghanistan at launch

Annan appeals for aid to Afghanistan at development strategy launch in London

On its difficult journey from conflict and devastation to nascent democracy, Afghanistan has succeeded in forging a progressively reinvigorated State, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today in London, urging the international community to respond with assistance and pledging the support of the United Nations in this endeavour.

“This is time for committed action,” he said. “After being forced to sacrifice so much in war, the Afghan people have willingly given even more to peace. They expect a peace dividend. And they deserve it,” he told the opening of a two-day donors' conference on Afghanistan, which is co-hosted by the Afghan and British Governments as well as the UN.

The London Conference has before it the Afghan Government's development strategy.

Conference participants will formalize their agreement as an Afghanistan Compact, in which the Afghan Government will commit itself to pursue certain security, governance and development goals over the next five years and the international community will pledge its support.

The Compact “sets forth measurable and time-bound benchmarks on a clear set of priorities,” Mr. Annan said. “In short it presents a result-oriented plan for Afghanistan's future. As co-chair of the Compact's Monitoring Board, the UN will support Government efforts to make international assistance more visible to the Afghan people.”

The Secretary-General pointed out that recent attacks have been a sad reminder that the country's peace is fragile, and that Afghanistan remains in an insecure environment of terrorism, extremist violence and the illicit and corrupting narcotics industry.

“It is in the interest of the entire international community to provide assistance as the country consolidates its moves towards peace, democracy and, above all, security, which underpins advancement on every other front,” Mr. Annan told the audience, which included Afghan President Hamid Karzai and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The partnership which emerged at the pledging conference in 2001 in Bonn, Germany, was being renewed in London and should continue to support the Afghan people. Mr. Annan said.

He called for Afghanistan's leaders at all levels to deliver on their end. “The long-term stability of the Afghan State and the credibility of its Government both depend on it.”

Also today in London, UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told reporters that the Conference “demonstrates how strongly the international community remains committed to supporting the people of Afghanistan in the long term.” He called the Compact evidence of a collective international determination “to see that the next stage of nation building succeeds.”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the Bonn process, begun four years ago, had produced an agreement to create the institutions of government. “Today, in the Afghanistan Compact, we have an agreement about making these institutions work.”

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