CORRECTED: US urges Afghanistan to detail Taliban reintegration plan

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The Afghan government must outline how international funding for a plan to reintegrate Taliban fighters who renounce violence will be overseen before it can begin operating, US special envoy Richard Holbrooke said Tuesday.

"The details of how it will be administered and overseen are quite important to the donor governments so there is no question of the diversion of funds," he told a Madrid news conference.

The US envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan said he expected the details of how the so-called Afghanistan Peace and Reconciliation Programme will be run to be announced before an international conference in Kabul on July 20.

"We emphasize the absolute essentiality of the programme actually being signed into law, in detail, and up and running by the time we get to Kabul. This is much too important a programme for delays," he said.

Holbrooke estimated that over over 200 million dollars (165 million euros) had so far been pledged to the fund, which will be used to set up retraining centres and create jobs and buy land for former Taliban fighters.

"I would also like to see literacy programs, one of the great needs of Afghanistan is to increase literacy in every walk of life, certainly involving poor people who have been misled into joining the Taliban because they think the Taliban represents their religion which it does not," he said.

Japan is the biggest single contributor to the fund, which also has received pledges from the United States and Britain.

During a news conference on Monday, Holbrooke said there would be "more developments" regarding the fund at the Kabul conference in a comment interpreted by some that more pledges of cash would be made.

But on Tuesday Holbrooke clarified that he was referring to details as to how the fund will be administered.

"There are other countries that are still ready to pledge money, but July 20, the Kabul conference is not a pledging conference, I really want to stress that," he said.

"Somebody may make a speech announcing they are going to give money to the fund but it is not about that."

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is scheduled to attend the international conference in Kabul along with the foreign ministers from several Western nations.

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

© 2010 AFP

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