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Clinton Calls for Increased Aid for Afghanistan

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is urging the international community to provide more security and development aid to Afghanistan. Mrs. Clinton spoke at the start of a day-long conference about Afghanistan in The Hague.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged countries not to let their economic troubles at home lead to a drop in support in Afghanistan, warning the growing instability in Afghanistan has international implications.

"The range of countries and institutions represented here is a universal recognition that what happens in Afghanistan matters to us all," she said. "Our failure to bring peace and progress would be a setback, not only to the people in Afghanistan, but to the entire enterprise and collective action in the interest of collective security."

The Obama administration is deploying 17,000 more troops and 4,000 trainers for Afghanistan's army and police. Mrs. Clinton said there should be international trainers for every Afghan army and police unit. She also called for strengthening Afghan security forces to at least 134,000 soldiers and 82,000 police officers by 2011.

She also said former Taliban and al-Qaida members should be integrated back into the community.

The Hague meeting aims to re-energize international efforts to help Afghanistan as violence there has reached its highest level in years.

But Afghan President Hamid Karzai outlined the strides the country has made since the Taliban rule was toppled in 2001.

"A country that seven years ago was isolated, oppressed by a tyrannical regime and violated by international terrorists from far corners of the world is a full-fledged member of the international community and is taking steady steps toward democracy and the rule of law," he said.

Diplomats will be asking Mr. Karzai's government to do more to fight the violence, along with corruption and drug production, and to ensure that Afghan elections in August are free and fair.