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Afghanistan Reconstruction Meeting Opens in Tokyo - 2002-01-20

Representatives from nearly 60 countries and 22 international organizations are in Tokyo to offer financial commitments for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. The meeting, which opens Monday morning, will give the countrys interim government its first opportunity to present its vision of the future to the world community.

International delegates to the Tokyo gathering say Afghanistans reconstruction efforts must be shaped by the Afghan government and people, with other countries and international groups providing assistance and guidance.

At the two day meeting, the donors are expected to make pledges, after hearing the results of a needs-assessment survey conducted by the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the United Nations Development Program.

Afghanistans interim leaders will not ask for a specific amount of funding. However, on Sunday, in Tokyo, interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai said he expected to return home with his hands full of pledged donations.

British delegate Robert Cooper says the meeting is not just about promising a specific amount of money, but should firmly demonstrate that the world community is committed to long-term stability in Afghanistan. "I did not think that number matters that much immediately. Actually, if you produce a really big number, it will be meaningless, because you cannot deliver that much aid to Afghanistan at the moment," he said.

The meeting is being jointly chaired by Japan, the United States, the European Union and Saudi Arabia. Mr. Karzai has brought several members of the interim administration of Afghanistan, including the finance and foreign ministers.

At the meeting, donors are expected to endorse the establishment of a supervisory body in Kabul to ensure that the aid process is effective. They are also expected to back a code of conduct concerning the international organizations entering Afghanistan. The nation was virtually abandoned by the global community as it suffered more than two decades of civil war.