Donors pledge $16 bln Afghan aid at Tokyo meet

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(Front row, from L) Japanese FM Koichiro Gemba, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Japanese PM Yoshihiko Noda pose during a group photo session prior to the opening of the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan, on July 8.

Donor nations on Sunday pledged $16 billion for Afghanistan to prevent the country from sliding back into turmoil when foreign combat troops depart.

A statement at the closing of a conference in Tokyo confirmed donors would stump up $16 billion in civilian aid through 2015, with the pledge expected to come with several pre-conditions including reforms to clamp down on corruption.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai was in the Japanese capital along with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for a gathering focused on the "transformation decade" after the NATO drawdown.

"In the initial stage of the transformation decade, the international community committed to providing over $16 billion through 2015, and sustaining support, through 2017, at or near levels of the past decade to respond to the fiscal gap estimated by the World Bank and the Afghan government," the statement said.

Sunday's conference was aimed at plugging the gap between what Kabul gets from its barely-functioning economy and what it needs to develop into a stable country.

Kabul covers only a third of the $6 billion it spends each year, not counting security costs, and has for a long time been heavily dependent on aid.

There are fears that once the US and its allies no longer have to worry about their soldiers dying in Afghanistan after the 2014 pullout, the country could be left to drift into the hands of drug lords and extremists.

Representatives from around 80 nations and international organisations were gathered in Tokyo to adopt the "Tokyo Declaration" pledging support and cash for Kabul.

According to the World Bank, spending on defence and development by foreign donors accounted for more than 95 percent of Afghanistan's GDP in 2010-11.

In May an Afghanistan security conference in Chicago involving the countries of the NATO-led coalition adopted a plan to provide $4.1 billion in annual security aid in coming years.

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