Finance minister doubts US commitments
Finance Minister Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal said the delegation led by President Hamid Karzai wide-ranging and productive talks with Americans on assistance to Afghanistan.
Most of the global aid was used to fund salaries of foreign advisors, Zakhilwal, who claimed that up to 40 percent of assistance was spent in Afghanistan, while the rest went out of the country.
"The government’s stance is that the lion’s share of aid be expended through its budget on priority projects to improve state organs on the one hand and cut project cost on the other," he said.
The Obama administration had agreed to the use of 50 percent of aid through the government’s budget and release of $825 million to Kabul, he told a joint media briefing with the defence minister.
When asked whether the US would honour its commitments, he replied: "We always doubt the implementation of such promises. For this reason, we have asked the US to pay us $825 within the next two months."
Washington has also agreed to reconstruct the Salang pass, build the Jalalabad-Peshawar and Kandahar-Chaman railroads, set up power dams in Kunar and Takhar provinces and execute a power project in Jawzjan.
Defence Minister Bismillah Mohammadi claimed winning commitments from the US administration to equipping Afghan security forces. The two sides discussed the challenges facing the Afghan forces, particularly the development of the air force.
The Americans had voiced their willingness to equip the Afghan air force, said the minister, who revealed air force 300 personnel were presently being trained inside and outside of Afghanistan. A year later, the country will have competent pilots.
On Monday, the president told a news conference in Washington the United States had agreed to give four C-130 transport planes to Afghanistan this year. They would also contribute 20 choppers to the air force and drones for intelligence-gathering.
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