Funding will be spent accountably: Karzai

by Masami Ito

Visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai promised Thursday that Japan’s financial aid of up to $5 billion will be put to the best possible use.

The Afghan government led by Karzai, who is serving his second term as president, has faced international criticism over corruption and poor governance.

“I guarantee, Mr. prime minister, that the Afghan people will do their best to have this money spent in Afghanistan for the best purposes of developing stability in Afghanistan and where Japan will feel fulfilled of the hard-earned resources that it is spending in Afghanistan,” Karzai said in a joint news conference after his talks with Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

On his fourth official visit to Tokyo, Karzai explained in a separate joint statement the various efforts being made to deal with corruption and improve the implementation and oversight of Afghan ministries and institutions “to increase the national ownership of and responsibility for reconstruction and development.”

The president also stressed that “for stability and peace in Afghanistan, it is important to realize the reintegration of those who renounce violence in society as an important component of sustainable political reconciliation.”

During their talks, the two leaders also agreed to continue holding consultations to enable Afghanistan to overcome the various challenges it faces and to establish the Japan-Afghanistan Policy Consultation as a framework for senior official level discussions.

“The situation in Afghanistan is not only important for the people of Afghanistan, it is extremely important in realizing world peace,” Kan said at the joint news conference. “I hope that this $5 billion will be used for the people of Afghanistan and for global peace.”

Last fall, the Democratic Party of Japan-led government decided to end the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s refueling mission in the Indian Ocean that supported the U.S.-led antiterrorism operations in and around Afghanistan.

Instead, the government drew up a package to provide up to $5 billion in about five years from 2009 to support the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan.

Earlier in the day, Karzai had an audience with Emperor Akihito on a courtesy visit to the Imperial Palace.