U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Afg
World Powers Seek More Dollars to Keep Afghanistan Running
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani met in Brussels on Tuesday to prepare for the second day of a donors' conference expected to raise billions of dollars for Afghanistan.
It is hoped the money raised will keep the country running until 2020.
But hopes for a new start to peace talks have been overshadowed by a surge in violence by Taliban fighters.
Fifteen years after the U.S invasion that ousted Taliban rulers harboring militants behind the attacks on New York and Washington, Afghanistan remains reliant on international aid and faces resurgent militants that threaten its progress.
The two-day, European Union-led donor conference is seeking fresh funds, despite Western public fatigue with their governments' involvement in Afghanistan.
Around 70 governments, including the United States, Russia, Iran, China and India, are attending, with pledges to be made on Wednesday.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini may seek to bring together China, Iran, Russia, the United States, Pakistan and India on the sidelines of the conference in what would be the first concerted peace push since 2013.
"We're buying four more years for Afghanistan," said EU Special Representative for Afghanistan Franz-Michael Mellbin.
"If we don't achieve peace, it's going to be extremely costly for the foreseeable future," Mellbin told Reuters.
This comes while, the U.S Secretary of State John Kerry met separately with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and chief executive Abdullah in Brussels on Tuesday, a day after Taliban insurgents briefly entered the centre of the northern city of Kunduz, raising questions about Afghan defenses.
The U.S State Department spokesman John Kirby said Kerry and Afghan leaders discussed ways to strengthen the government and efforts by the United States and its allies to improve the capabilities of the country's security forces.
But even with billions of dollars spent by the United States and NATO for Afghan security forces, some 30 percent of the Afghan population lives in territory that the government does not fully control, according to Western officials.
At the Brussels conference, officials will pursue total pledges of $3 billion USD a year for the 2017-2020 period.
That is lower than the $4 billion USD a year pledged at the last conference in Tokyo in 2012, partly because Afghanistan is raising its own revenues and because of donor fatigue.
Eighty percent of Afghanistan's budget is financed by aid.