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Afghan Aid Talks End - 2001-12-13

Non-governmental organizations from Afghanistan and Japan have ended three days of talks in Tokyo about providing support for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Conference participants want to make sure donor nations do not forget the impoverished, battered nation.

News that Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi pledged to increase aid to Afghanistan capped the last day of meetings between Japanese and Afghan non-governmental organizations.

Ahmad Pardes, the deputy director of the Afghan Help and Training Program, told VOA News through a translator, that Mr. Koizumi's promise demonstrates Japan's commitment to helping the country. Japan was the first country that offered help for the reconstruction of Afghanistan, he said. I think this, Mr. Koizumi's proposal of having more money for NGOs, is the continuation of that good feeling toward the reconstruction of Afghanistan and Afghan people.

Participants in the three-day conference will draft proposals for officials to consider next month at an international ministerial meeting on Afghan aid.

One of Mr. Pardes' fellow delegates, Mirzha Jan of the Ibn Sina Public Health Organization, said the next step is to get Japanese and other aid agencies into Afghanistan. "I think this will be a very good initiative, a good beginning to see them in Afghanistan," he said. "And we need each other's support. Japan, you know, they are having a lot of knowledge and technical expertise. We will have good partnerships."

At the end of the conference, Abdual Salam Rahimy, Afghanistan's director of coordination of humanitarian assistance, said he worries the world's economic powers will go back to ignoring his country once it is out of the daily headlines. "We hear a lot of promises from the world's leaders that it will not be repeated and Afghanistan will not be left alone," said Abdual Salam Rahimy. "And we believe that and we hope that attention will be continued."

The Japanese participants pledge that they will remain at the forefront in making sure the spotlight stays on Afghanistan.