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Afghanistan Nets $8 Billion As Donor Conference Ends

Afghan leader Hamid Karzai 1 April 2004 -- Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai says that he is "very satisfied" with the results of an international donors conference for Afghanistan that wrapped up today in Berlin.

Karzai made his comments after donor nations pledged over $8 billion to Afghanistan over the next three years.

"Afghanistan will be a reliable partner. I thank you all very much," he said. "We will go back to our country, taking the message of strong commitment and partnership of the international community with us, and I thank you on behalf of the Afghan people."

Afghan Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani said that $3 billion of the pledged money will go towards increasing security in his country.

Nations attending the conference today discussed ways to improve Afghanistan's security. The closing statement also welcomed NATO's announcement that it will establish another five provincial reconstruction teams and "assist" security during upcoming elections.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told a closed meeting with ministers at the conference that warlordism and crime continues to threaten reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.

During the conference, Afghanistan and its six neighboring countries -- China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan -- signed a regional cooperation agreement to step up antinarcotics efforts.