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The Price of a New Afghanistan

The world's wealthy nations pledge aid to Afghanistan, paving the way for the country's reconstruction.


Afghanistan's interim Prime Minister Hamid Karzai, right, and German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul in Tokyo.

The high-profile aid meeting for Afghanistan ended successfully Tuesday after donors said they would give upwards of $4.5 billion over the next few years to help rebuild the country.

Kabul's interim leader, Hamid Karzai, promised to set up a credible, trustworthy government to lead the way. Without help, his authority is already jeopardized.

Karzai told aid donors in Tokyo that their money was needed quickly to shore up his fledgling administration.

The offers of aid from the European Union, Japan, Saudi Arabia, the United States and others backed up promises not to walk away from Afghanistan once the US campaign is over. "In order to eradicate terrorism, we must eliminate the conditions that allow terrorism to take root," said Japan's Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, at the conference opening on Monday.

"To do so, it is essential that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan be built," Koizumi said, adding that this could not be accomplished in just a couple of years. "The path is long and will require many years. But I am sure that we can make it."

Japan pledged $500 million over the next two-and-a-half years.

Afghanistan needs $1.7 billion in the first year, according to the World Bank and United Nations. "That sum is clearly going to be covered, so we can speak of the conference as being a success," said German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul. "The process is shaping up positively."

Wieczorek-Zeul said Germany's reconstruction efforts - it pledged $280 million - would focus on women and girls. "They were particularly subject to oppression and therefore need our special solidarity and help now," she said.

Bolstering commitments from individual European states, the European Commission pledged $177 million in 2002, adding that it aims to provide over $880 million over the next five years. The US wants initially to provide $296 million.

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