Clinton: NATO must 'step up' for Afghanistan

US secretary of state tells alliance meeting in Brussels it is "crucial" for donor nations to fulfill pledges of $4.1bn.

    Clinton: NATO must 'step up' for Afghanistan
    Guido Westerwelle, Germany's foreign minister, said EU nations must deliver on their commitments to Kabul [Reuters]

    Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, has called on NATO allies to stand by their funding commitments to Afghanistan following the December 2014 international troop withdrawal.

    Speaking at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels on Wednesday, Clinton reminded austerity-hit European nations of their commitments to the $4.1bn pledged annually to the Central Asian nation after foreign forces end their combat role.

    "It will be crucial for every nation to follow through on their commitments, and for those who haven't yet committed any
    funding to do so," Clinton said at the meeting of countries contributing to the NATO-led military mission in Afghanistan.

    With 35 per cent unemployment and an impending April 2014 presidential election, Clinton also stressed the importance of economic and political transition in Afghanistan.

    Thus far, donor nations have pledged $16bn to support the political transition and stabilising the economy.

    Clinton went on to say that regional support will be important to a successful transition in Afghanistan.

    "Every nation in the region has a stake in Afghanistan's future and a responsibility to step up and help secure it," she
    said.

    The Afghan government has often blamed neighbouring nations, particularly Pakistan and Iran, for security and political stumbles.

    'Investment'

    Guido Westerwelle, German foreign minister, said even struggling European nations must follow through on their promises to the Kabul leadership.

    "Of course that is not easy during times of tightening purse strings," he said. 

    "But it is in the interest of European citizens. That is why I am making sure that the commitments made are kept."

    Janan Mosazai, Afghan foreign ministry spokesman, said though Kabul understands the financial strain these pledges may place on donor nations, it will be "an investment".

    "In our view, that is an efficient, a cost-effective investment in the long-term security that the people of Afghanistan and the people of the wider region and the international community share with each other and we will count on the continued full support of the international community on those pledges," he said.

    The calls for further financial commitments come on the same day as a report by the Corruption Perceptions Index ranked Afghanistan as the most corrupt nation on earth.

    The annual report from the Berlin-based group saw Afghanistan tie with Somalia and North Korea for last place.


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