UN chief pledges long-term support for Kabul

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UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday lamented Pakistan's boycott of a key conference on Afghanistan's future while also promising Kabul the international community's long-term support

"It would have been better if Pakistan (had) been there," Ban said at a news conference with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle ahead of the meeting in Bonn on Monday.

More than 100 countries and international organisations are due to attend, but Pakistan, a vital player in Afghanistan's future, pulled out after 24 of its soldiers were killed in a NATO air strike last month.

Ban said the international community would support Kabul in three keys areas -- security, women's rights and political reconciliation -- between now and the end of 2014, when NATO troops are due to pull out.

Westerwelle said that despite its boycott, Pakistan wanted to cooperate in the political process being outlined in Bonn.

© 2011 AFP

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