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President Urges Donors To Speed Up Afghan Recovery

Afghan President Hamid Karzai (left) in file photo with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf) Kabul, 4 April 2005 -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai said at the beginning of a donors' conference today that his country has made significant process since the fall of the Taliban regime more than three years ago.

But Karzai said Afghanistan still faces immense challenges, including chronic poverty, corruption, and drug trafficking.

Participants in the three-day Afghan Development Forum planned to debate strategies for rebuilding Afghanistan rather than produce new aid pledges.

Karzai said there should be a "more aggressive" economic policy that includes restoring power and irrigation systems as well as an intensified road-building program. He said a second priority is training staff for the country's skeletal ministries.

Karzai's government adopted a $4.75 billion budget on 2 April for the current year, 93 percent of it financed by donors. The government's budget is binding in the absence of a national parliament to approve budget legislation.