World powers expressed their support on Thursday for Afghanistan's desire to channel more international aid through the state budget, but warned that there must be tangible results in the fight against corruption in the country.
Some 70 countries gathered on Thursday in London for an international conference on Afghanistan. They issued a joint communique that in particular said Afghanistan was entering "a new phase on the way to full Afghan ownership."
The communique also said the support for the Central Asian state will depend on strengthening the Afghan finance system and improving budget implementation indicators.
A third of international aid to Afghanistan is currently distributed through the state budget, and the government wants to increase that proportion to 50% over the next two years.
Fears over corruption and poor governance mean most aid is distributed independently of the state, which is seen as another factor in the government's lack of legitimacy in the eyes of many Afghans.
Afghanistan's international partners pledged to help the country work out a detailed roadmap to reduce corruption before a conference to be held in Kabul in a few months to assess progress on changes begun by the London gathering.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai called the fight against corruption his main priority.
"Fighting corruption will be the key focus of my second term in office. My government is committed to fighting corruption with all means possible, including punishing those who commit it and rewarding those who avoid it," he said in his speech at the conference.
"Nevertheless, we must make sure that we do not stop at merely fighting symptoms of corruption. Rather, we must take decisive action against its root causes," he said.
Karzai, reelected last year in a poll marred by allegations of widespread fraud, has expressed the hope that his country's renewed efforts to reconcile with Taliban militants will be successful. He said the government would offer Taliban fighters financial support, housing and jobs in exchange for laying down their arms and returning to civilian life.
The communique expressed the participants' support for the Karzai government's plans to encourage low and mid-level Taliban fighters to reintegrate into society. The Taliban has said the campaign, which is expected to cost around $500 million, will fail as its fighters have no interest in material goods.
LONDON, January 28 (RIA Novosti)