Afghan President Hamid Karzai declared an international meeting on development aid a success Thursday, but warned Afghanistan's battle against the illegal drug trade was a long-term struggle.
International donors at the two-day summit pledged more than $8 billion in reconstruction aid to Afghanistan. That sum is to be delivered during the next three years with Afghanistan receiving nearly $4.5 billion in aid this year.
Speaking at the end of the summit, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he was satisfied with the outcome of the meeting. He thanked the international community for its continued support, but underlined Afghanistan's commitment to becoming an independent country.
"Afghanistan will remain loyal to the commitments it has made to reform for democracy, for human rights, for the rule of law, for the fight against drugs, for the fight terrorism, and for eventually working very hard to be stand on its own two feet and not being a burden on the international community," he said.
More than 700 delegates from more than 50 countries were at the conference, including Secretary of State Colin Powell.
The United States pledged almost half this year's aid and donated an additional $123 million to combating Afghanistan's illegal drug trade. Mr. Powell said America is also prepared to provide troops for this purpose.
Earlier at the conference, Afghanistan signed an agreement with six neighboring countries, including China, Iran, and Pakistan, to join forces in the fight against drug trafficking.
Mr. Karzai admitted Afghanistan, which is the world's largest producer of heroin, was far from winning the battle against drugs.
"This is not a short-term thing. This is a long-term struggle. We are not focusing on the eradication of this year alone," he said. "We are focusing on working on the extinction of it. We want drugs to go away. It is not a one-time eradication and then forget about this process. Drugs have to go away and be replaced by other legitimate forms of economic activity. Agriculture, food production, industries or service industries. That is the objective."
The conference also discussed security concerns surrounding elections due to be held this September in Afghanistan.
They will be the first free elections in Afghanistan, a country whose security is threatened by regional warlords, private militia, and terrorist groups. Senior officials agreed to send a further five military provincial reconstruction teams to Afghanistan to boost security and additional international-forces troops are expected to follow.