July 8 - The donors' conference on Afghanistan kicks off in Tokyo as the country seeks development aid to secure the future after foreign troops withdraw. Rough cut (no reporter narration).
(ROUGH CUT ONLY - NO REPORTER NARRATION) International powers gathered in Japan on Sunday (July 8) to take part in the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan. As war winds down in Afghanistan, participants at the donor's conference are expected to pledge $4 billion annually in development aid over the 2012-2015 period The figure is well below the sum of at least $6 billion a year that the Afghan central bank has estimated is needed to foster economic growth over the next decade. The development aid would come on top of the $4.1 billion committed annually by NATO and its partners for Afghanistan's security forces, pledged at a Chicago summit in May. Speaking as the conference opened, Afghan President Hamid Karzai urged donors to help. SOUNDBITE: AFGHAN PRESIDENT HAMID KARZAI SAYING (English): "Today, I request Afghanistan's friends and partners to reassure the Afghan people that you will be with us as we seek to strengthen Afghanistan as a peaceful, self-reliant and democratic country, and to translate your commitments into tangible action during the transformation decade." U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said only lengthy commitment to Afghanistan would help the overall development in the country. SOUNDBITE: U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL, BAN KI-MOON, SAYING (English): "But let us be clear - transition must not translate into short-term measures only. We should give the people of Afghanistan the long-term perspective and prospect of a better future and ease their worries that Afghanistan may be abandoned." The conference came a day after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made an unannounced visit to Kabul, where she declared Afghanistan a major non-NATO ally. The new status may help Afghanistan acquire U.S. defence supplies and have greater access to U.S. training as the Afghan army takes more responsibility for the country's security ahead of the 2014 withdrawal of most NATO combat troops. After over 10 years and billions of dollars in outside aid, Afghanistan remains one of the world's 10 poorest countries, while widespread corruption continues to undermine outsiders' willingness to send much-needed investment.