Turkey to give Afghanistan $150mn in development aid

Turkey to give Afghanistan $150mn in development aid

Turkey's foreign minister has promised Afghanistan $150 million in development aid over a three-year period from 2015 - one of a raft of measures Mevlut Cavusoglu said were aimed at helping the beleaguered country "back on its feet", Anadolu agency reported.

Cavusoglu told a conference on Afghanistan in the Chinese capital Friday that it would also make a further donation of €60 million ($75 million) "to train Afghan security forces in addition to training already given in Turkey" and increase its number of troops in the country from around 700 to 1,100 after 2016.

Turkey had initially announced the pledge at the 2012 Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan. The 11-year NATO-led security mission in the country - in which Turkey twice took command - will come to a close at the end of 2014, with Afghan troops and police assuming full responsibility for its security.

Cavusoglu added that Turkey had also agreed to take over the management of Kabul airport in the country's capital, which is used for both military and civilian purposes.

"This will cost about €50 million but it is important for the future of Afghanistan," he said, adding that the Ministerial Conference of the Istanbul Process was initiated by Turkey in order to secure stability in Afghanistan and help it "get back on its feet."

He reiterated Turkey's support towards the establishment of a national unity government in Afghanistan, following a Sept. 21 declaration by the country's Independent Election Commission that Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai will become president - and his rival Abdullah Abdullah chief executive - ending a months-long dispute over electoral fraud.

"The cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan is also very important for border security and regional stability," Cavusoglu said, adding that he - along with his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry - would visit Kabul after the new government is formed in order to prepare for a trilateral summit.

The Istanbul Process - of which this year's conference was the fourth - was founded in November 2011 to present a new vision of security and stability in Afghanistan and to promote regional cooperation in Asia, according to the summit's official website.

The summit will monitor the recovery of Afghanistan, where more than three decades of turmoil and war have left the country with weak infrastructure, while millions of people are displaced and thousands have been killed or disabled.

The United Nations' Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Representative for Afghanistan, Jan Kubis, had earlier opened the conference, thanking China for hosting it "at such an important moment of transition for Afghanistan and the broader 'Heart of Asia' region."

"With the conclusion of the Presidential election and the drawdown of international military forces, Afghanistan enters its 'transformation decade,'" he added. "There is a clear need for regional commitment, engagement and hard work in advancing cooperation in a coherent and effective way."

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