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Afghanistan: Donors Conference Promises $1.2 Billion In 2003

Oslo, 18 December 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Donor states today pledged $1.24 billion in aid to Afghanistan in 2003, with the possibility of as much as $2 billion. Afghan Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai said at the close of a donors conference in Oslo that the results showed that the international community remains committed to Afghanistan even as a new crisis looms over Iraq.

Conference chairman and Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister Vidar Helgesen said the 2003 pledge amount is likely to increase because some states have yet to fix their budgets for next year. He said that $2 billion appears to be a realistic target.

Afghan government statistics show that donors this year have not fully met their pledges. In addition, Helgesen and Ahmadzai said it is unclear how much of the pledges represent new funds or are included in five years of pledges made at a conference in January.

Reached in Sweden late today, Afghan Rehabilitation Minister Amin Farhang told RFE/RL he believes late disbursements of 2002 pledges will also boost the 2003 numbers. "For the year 2003, the international community has approved more than $2 billion euros for Afghanistan. What is left over from [this] year will be added to [next year], and the total will be $2 billion euros," Farhang said.

Ahmadzai said aid priorities are education, water, sanitation, defense, the civil service, and infrastructure.