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Brussels Conference on Afghanistan kicks off

KABUL: The two-day Brussels International Conference on Afghanistan kicked off in the Belgium capital on Tuesday, when the European Commission announced new financial assistance to the Afghan government in the form of a State-building contract.

Tomorrow, the European Union and the government of Afghanistan will co-host the Brussels Conference that will gather more than 70 countries and 20 international organisations and agencies.

The gathering will provide a platform for the Kabul administration to set out its vision and track record on reform. For the international community, it will be the opportunity to signal sustained political and financial support to Afghan peace, state-building and development.

Afghan officials are expecting the announcement of $4 billion annual aid from the international community for the next four years at the conference.

President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Abdullah Abdullah will represent Afghanistan and Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, High Representative Federica Mogherini and Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for Development Cooperation, will represent the European Union.

Javed Faisal, the spokesman for CEO, told Pajhwok Afghan News from Brussels over the telephone a high level Afghan delegation arrived in Brussels yesterday.

He said on the first day of the conference several meetings between officials of the two sides, including President Ghani and Abdullah, would take place on the event’s sidelines.

Faisal said President Ghani and CEO Abdullah would participate in a high level event, entitled ‘Empowered women, prosperous Afghanistan’ on Tuesday.

The event will provide a platform for the Afghan government to outline policy progress and plans on the protection and empowerment of women. It will include two panels, one focusing on the political and human rights of Afghan women and the other on their socio-economic situation. The event is open to accredited media and will be livestreamed.

A second high level event the same day on regional integration and prosperity will take place. The event is expected to set the next steps for regional economic cooperation projects that can attract the resources of Afghanistan, regional partners and the wider international community.

It will gather representatives from regional and international partner countries, as well as from international organisations.

Faisal said Afghanistan and the EU would sign an agreement under which the EU would spend its aid money through the Afghan government budget.

There were reports recently that the Afghan government and the EU had signed an agreement on deportation of illegal Afghan migrants in the EU.

The reports claimed the EU had linked its aid to Afghanistan with signing of the deportation agreement.

But Faisal said the migrants issue was not on the agenda of the Brussels conference and no discussion in this regard would take place.

A day earlier, Afghan Finance Minister Eklil Hakimi said the Brussels conference was a highly important event for Afghanistan and that Afghan officials would return with achievements from the event.

He had said they were expecting pledges of a strong political and financial support from the interntional community at the Brussels conference.

The conference is expected to focus on three levels:

Joint international and Afghan efforts to increase the effectiveness of sustained international support and funding, on the basis of a new Afghan national development framework

Afghan reform efforts, including on economic reform, rule of law, improved public finance management and anti-corruption so as to ensure the provision of the most important services and public goods

regional efforts to support a political process towards peace and cross-border economic cooperation (PAN)

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