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Donors Pledge Money for Afghan Army, Police Force - 2002-05-17

A financial plan to pay for Afghanistan's security forces is being put together by donor countries meeting in Geneva. The plan would pay costs for Afghanistan's national army and police force, considered necessary to ensure a lasting reconstruction.

The United Nations special representative to Afghanistan, Lakhtar Brahimi, says donor countries have committed themselves to pay well beyond $500 million to create a national army and police force for Afghanistan and to demobilize former combatants not selected to join the new security structure.

Countries will be taking on not only financial commitments, but specific responsibilities in rebuilding Afghanistan's security infrastructure. The United States will train the Afghan army, while Germany will aid in reforming the police system. The United Kingdom is working on counter-narcotics, while Italy and the UN are rebuilding the judicial system. Japan will aid with the demobilization of over 200,000 combatants.

U.S. coordinator for Afghanistan, David Johnson, says the funds pledged will make it possible to do more than just get started, but additional money is needed. "It is a very large step in the right direction," he said. "We have some significant funds to back that up, but we are also needing contributions from other states as well in order for that entire program to be effectively financed."

Officials say that former combatants considered unsuitable for military or police service, but who are willing to lay down their weapons, will be registered and given training in a trade where they will be paid better than they were as soldiers.

The Afghan interim government's foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah says most of the regional leaders or warlords have proved their loyalty to the current political process underway with one or two exceptions. "Those who will resist or try to make obstacles for the political process or the stability in Afghanistan will have to be dealt with accordingly by the interim government or the proceeding governments," he said.

Mr. Abdullah says most Afghans show they wish to cooperate with the new political developments in the country, but he says that the challenges ahead should not be underestimated.