German minister in Afghanistan for aid talks

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German Development Minister Dirk Niebel arrived in Afghanistan Sunday for talks on continued aid tied to progress on political reforms, his ministry said.

Niebel, who arrived from Pakistan on a South Asian tour with EU development commissioner Andris Piebalgs, was to meet President Hamid Karzai and Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal, the development ministry said in a statement.

Germany had divided its payment of development aid to Afghanistan this year into two tranches to create an incentive for reform programmes including measures to fight corruption.

"During the meeting (with Zakhilwal), they will discuss which conditions must be fulfilled so the German development ministry can pay out the remaining second tranche amounting to 110 million euros ($157 million)," the ministry said.

They will also meet representatives of non-governmental organisations to assess progress on "social liberalisation" and human rights.

The ministry said Germany was currently the biggest donor of development aid in Europe, with a pledge of up to 430 million euros annually to 2013.

Germany is also the third biggest supplier of foreign troops in the strife-wracked country with some 4,900 soldiers.

After Afghanistan, Niebel and Piebalgs will continue on to Bangladesh.

© 2011 AFP

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