Kerry unveils $800m New Development Partnership
CAMP DAVID (Pajhwok): US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday announced the launch of a $800 million New Development Partnership with Afghanistan and re-launch of the Bilateral Commission and the Security Consultative Forum, as part of the effort to give a new direction to the bilateral relationship.
A series of announcements aimed at achieving this goal were made by Kerry following day-long discussions with the visiting Afghan delegation led by President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Dr Abdullah Abdullah at Camp David.
“The depth of our discussions today reflects the critical nature of this moment, with Afghanistan’s government of national unity now fully responsible for the security of its people and moving ahead on a reform agenda of its own design,” Kerry told reporters.
At the center of the bilateral relationship was a shared commitment to security and peace and a desire to promote prosperity and social progress throughout Afghanistan, he said, adding the goals were outlined in the 2012 enduring strategic partnership agreement.
Kerry said later in the year he would be traveling to Kabul to join Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani in hosting a meeting of the bilateral commission, which would be the first since 2013.
The creation of a New Development Partnership is aligned with the unity government’s reform agenda, he said. This initiative reflects the strategic importance of the US-Afghan relationship and it recognises a new era of cooperation between the two governments.
“The partnership will promote Afghan self-reliance by using up to 800 million in US aid to incentivise and measure Afghan-led reform and development activities and strengthen Afghan institutions and fiscal transparency, and give the new unity government more opportunity to lead its own development trajectory,” he said.
In his remarks, Ghani said the government of national unity was an enduring phenomenon. One of its key characteristics was its honesty in dealing with the balance sheet that it had inherited,” the president added.
“I very much welcome the energy initiative because that is the difference between Afghanistan of today and the Afghanistan of the future. This energy initiative will turn us into a hub where energy from Central Asia and also increasingly generated into – from Afghanistan will flow into South Asia. It would make the dream of Asian integration a reality,” Ghani said.
Summing up the day’s proceedings, Abdullah described the meetings and the progress made as a new chapter in the bilateral relationship. “Today was a unique opportunity to once again take stock of what has happened, but, more importantly, the way forward..."
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