Billion dollar aid for Afghan projects

President George W Bush is expected to propose one billion dollars in new aid for Afghanistan, more than tripling the $300 million it currently receives.

    The funds are earmarked for projects that can be completed within a year, in order to bolster the government of President Hamid Karzai before October 2004 elections in Afghanistan.

    The new funds would be for highway and school construction, police training, development of the Afghan army, and programs to help women enter the workforce, among other projects, according to a report in the Washington Post.

    The proposal resulted from "a comprehensive, strategic update on Afghanistan," Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defence for policy, told the newspaper.

    "America is delivering on our pledge."

    US President Bush

    "We noted that there's a lot that we're spending in Afghanistan and there's a lot at stake strategically. And we asked ourselves are we investing enough, given the expense of everything that we're doing," he said.

    In a speech in October, President Bush noted that the United States and 60 other countries had pledged $4.5 billion in aid to Afghanistan over five years at a donors conference in Tokyo and said, "America is delivering on our pledge; we're writing our cheques. We're currently implementing more than $300 million worth of reconstruction and recovery projects."

    The United States spends about 10 billion dollars on Afghanistan annually, but most of that money goes to support the 9,000 US troops deployed there.

    US Congress authorised $3.3 billion in financial and military assistance to Afghanistan in late 2001 but little has been spent.

    The US administration hopes the move will motivate other countries to increase aide to Afghanistan at a donor conference it hopes to hold at the World Trade Organisation summit in Cancun, Mexico, in September, a senior administration official was quoted as saying.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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