More funding for Afghan peace efforts expected: US envoy

7th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

More funds for Afghanistan's plan to reintegrate Taliban fighters who renounce violence are expected to be pledged next month at a conference in Kabul, US special envoy Richard Holbrooke said Monday.

The July 20 conference is a follow-up to a London summit in January, when donors pledged an initial 140 million dollars (100 million euros) to a so-called Afghanistan Peace and Reconciliation Programme trust fund financed by Japan, the United States, Britain and others.

The US envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan told a news conference in Madrid that pledges had continued to come in since then.

"Almost 200 million dollars has been committed under a programme led by the Japanese, which is its largest contributor, and there will more developments on this at the Kabul conference," Holbrooke said, without specifying a sum.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is scheduled to attend the international conference in Kabul along with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other Western diplomats.

Holbrooke was in Madrid for an informal meeting of special representatives for Afghanistan from more than 30 countries and organisations.

It was their first meeting since 1,600 delegates from across Afghanistan attended a three-day "peace jirga" in Kabul last week and came up with a 16-point declaration in which they urged all parties to disarm and reconcile.

Among the proposals was a call to remove the names of Taliban leaders from various anti-terror blacklists and to lift preconditions for talks with Taliban leaders.

Holbrooke said a final political solution in Afghanistan could involve a reformed Taliban in the government if they repudiated Al-Qaeda.

"There is a red line for the US and NATO allies. We feel that anyone must renounce any ties with Al-Qaeda," he said.

The Taliban, who were not invited to the "peace jirga", want the withdrawal of all foreign forces from the country before any peace negotiations with the Afghan government can begin.

Taliban militants attacked the opening of the "peace jirga" on Wednesday with rockets.

The United States has been cool to any overtures to top Taliban leaders who sheltered Al-Qaeda members before the September 11, 2001 attacks but has encouraged moves to "reintegrate" the movement's junior members.

© 2010 AFP

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