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Bush:  US Committed to Supporting Afghanistan Reconstruction - 2002-10-11

President Bush Friday again promised to help Afghanistan claim what he called "its democratic future" by urging world leaders to honor financial commitments to help rebuild the country. Afghanistan's government says it needs four times the amount of aid offered.

President Bush said the United States will continue to help Afghans recover from "years of tyranny and oppression" under the Taleban.

U.S. troops drove that government from power because the Taleban backed terrorists thought responsible for last year's September 11 attacks in New York and Washington.

With a new government in place in Afghanistan, the president said the United States remains committed to supporting the country's "new era of hope."

"We still have a lot of work to do in Afghanistan to achieve our dreams and more importantly, the dreams of the Afghan people," he said. "Today, America affirms its full commitment to a future of progress and stability for the Afghan people."

The president says he is keeping his pledge to spend more than $4.5 billion to help Afghanistan. Without mentioning any other countries by name, Mr. Bush said those who have made promises to help Afghanistan need to honor their commitments.

The country's finance minister, Ashraf Ghani says Afghanistan needs up to $20 billion over the next five years to get the country back on its feet.

Mr. Ghani spoke ahead of a two-day donor meeting to coordinate Afghan aid. The government is expected to present its national development plans and push for additional funding.

Mr. Ghani says donor commitments to Kosovo, Bosnia, and East Timor were "far larger" than those made to Afghanistan, which is near the bottom of a U.N. index used to measure quality of life.

The finance minister wants to see more aid money channeled through the government rather than humanitarian groups because, he says, the government is in a better position to decide where that money is best spent.

President Hamid Karzai Thursday said $1.8 billion dollars of aid has been pledged for this year, but only $890 million has been received. Of that, he says, $800 million went to U.N. agencies and non-governmental organizations. Only $90 million has gone to the Afghan government.