- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 16, 2012

Afghanistan’s government hopes to persuade foreign countries to pledge funds that are key to keeping progress in the country on track, Afghanistan’s ambassador to the United States said Wednesday.

Afghanistan’s international partners will gather in Tokyo in July for a conference at which they are expected to pledge economic aid.

“We anticipate our international partners will commit beyond 2014 on the development phase of Afghanistan,” Ambassador Eklil Hakimi told a gathering at the Slovenian Embassy. “We hope to have done our homework and will present a development agenda” at the conference.

The Afghan government is seeking international assistance, especially to train, equip and pay its security forces.

A recent estimate by the World Bank found that Afghanistan will face a shortfall of about $7 billion a year from the end of 2014 until 2024.

The country’s economic stability directly affects global stability, Mr. Hakimi said.

A global recession and rampant corruption in Afghanistan have slowed the flow of financial aid.

U.S. combat troops are expected to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

Mr. Hakimi expressed confidence that Afghans would be able to take the security lead once the international troops withdraw.

“But we will need our international partners to continue to train and equip Afghan national security forces in order to build their capacity,” he said.

Afghanistan will feature high in the agenda of a NATO summit in Chicago in May.