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Crocker: Pakistan's 'Loss' if it Boycotts Afghan Conference


Ryan Crocker, the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, speaks to journalists in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 22, 2011.

Ryan Crocker, the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, speaks to journalists in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 22, 2011.

The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker, said on Saturday it will be Pakistan's loss if its government boycotts the upcoming international conference on Afghanistan's future scheduled to start Monday in Bonn, Germany.

Pakistani officials remain adamant in their decision to boycott the upcoming Bonn Conference on Afghanistan's future, which was made to protest NATO airstrikes late last month that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers along the border with Afghanistan.

During an interview with VOA's Afghan service, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker said that Islamabad's absence from the conference will be "unfortunate." But it cannot derail Afghan progress.

"Frankly, it will be their loss if they are not there, Crocker said. "It isn't going to change the outcome of the conference."

Eighty-five countries are meeting 10 years after the original Bonn Conference, in which diplomats appointed a transitional government in Afghanistan.

Now, Crocker said the international community will renew its long-term commitment to Afghanistan's security, stability and prosperty.

"The intent of those international participants is to say, 'We've been with you for the last 10 years... we're going to be with you for the next 10 years."

Crocker also said he has seen a lot of changes in Afghanistan over the past decade beyond the toppling of the Taliban government.

"Nine hundred thousand kids were in school here when I arrived," he said. "There are now over eight million, and almost 40 percent are girls. The life expectancy of Afghans has risen enormously, economic activity, again, is also extraordinary."

And he added he expects more changes in security in the coming years.

Crocker helped mark the start of the second phase of security transfer from coalition forces to the Afghans earlier this month.

World leaders are expected to further discuss in Bonn the role of the coalition after the 2014 deadline for foreign combat soldiers to leave Afghanistan.

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