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Karzai, Rice Discuss Afghan Aid In London

30 January 2006 -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai has met with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in London today to discuss assistance to his country over the next five years.

The Afghan government and international donors have drafted a blueprint for future development that is expected to be signed at a two-day conference beginning on 31 January in the British capital.

According to a draft obtained by the news agency AP, the development plan lists several targets to be reached by 2011. One says the number of people living on the equivalent of less than $1 a day is to be reduced by 3 percent per year.

Billions of dollars in aid have been funneled into Afghanistan in the past four years, following decades of civil war and resistance to Soviet occupation before the U.S.-led invasion to oust the hard-line Taliban regime in 2001. But most Afghans remain mired in poverty amid complaints that the money has been wasted.