Afghans must pursue reform, democracy: Clinton

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 05, 2011 5:58 AM
Afghans must pursue reform, democracy: Clinton

BONN (Reuters) - The United States is ready to support Afghanistan over the long haul but the country must carry through on reforms, take responsibility for its own security and build a democracy rooted in the rule of law, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday.

Speaking at an international conference on Afghanistan, Clinton added that the United States would resume paying into a World Bank-administered trust fund for Afghanistan, a decision that U.S. officials said would allow for the disbursement of roughly $650 million to $700 million in suspended U.S. aid.

Afghans would have to embrace reforms and take the "lead in their own defense and strengthen an inclusive democracy rooted in the rule of law," she told the gathering in the German city of Bonn.

"Mutual accountability will be at the heart of the commitments we make to each other."

The United States and other big donors stopped paying into the World Bank-administered Afghan Reconstruction Trust Fund in June, when the International Monetary Fund suspended its program with Afghanistan because of concerns about Afghanistan's troubled Kabul Bank.

The IMF board voted in November to resume the program, essentially giving a green light for donors to resume paying into the fund, which finances such things as locally-selected wells, roads and irrigation projects.

The U.S. pays in roughly $650 million to $700 million a year into trust fund, none of which was transferred during the U.S. fiscal 2011 year which ended on September 30, U.S. officials said. That money can now begin to flow in the coming weeks, they said.

Clinton suggested that U.S. payments into the fund might depend on continued Afghan financial and governance reforms.

"We will evaluate progress, and look to the government to be diligent in continuing these reforms," she added.

"This partnership is critical as Afghanistan prepares to face the economic challenges of transition, and we support its efforts to move from a relationship based on aid to a more sustainable economy."

(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed, Editing by William Maclean)