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Germany Pledges $193 Million Annually For Afghan Transition

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (right) with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Berlin.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says her country will give Afghanistan 150 million euros ($193 million) annually to support its police and military forces after NATO-led troops leave the country in 2014.

Merkel was speaking on May 16 after signing a long-term strategic partnership agreement with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Berlin.

Merkel, whose country has been one of the leading contributors of NATO troops to Afghanistan over the past decade, also signed a partnership agreement for education, infrastructure and economic cooperation with Afghanistan.

Karzai and Merkel are to meet again at the May 20-21 NATO summit in Chicago, which is expected to focus on ways to assist Afghan forces with the security transition.

Australia Pledges Afghan Funds

In a related development, Australia has pledged to contribute $300 million over three years starting in 2015 to assist Afghan forces with the security transition.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Defense Minister Stephen Smith released a statement on May 15 saying that Australia would provide $100 million every year for three years, starting in 2015.

Australia has some 1,550 troops stationed in Afghanistan, mainly as trainers for Afghan forces.

Gillard said in April that Australia would start withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan in 2013.

Gillard said on May 15 that Australia is considering "an ongoing special forces presence" in Afghanistan and would maintain a "substantial development assistance program beyond 2014."

Based on reporting by AFP, AP and AFP

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