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Karzai says UN aid meet to bring needed attention

KABUL, Jan 24 (Reuters) President Hamid Karzai said today an international conference likely to be held in March would attract more attention to the reconstruction of Afghanistan, which many people complain is happening too slowly.

The United Nations is organising the conference in the Germany city of Bonn to muster support for Afghanistan ahead of elections this year. Aid to Afghanistan and its economic, political and security situation would also be discussed.

''It is a good idea,'' Karzai told reporters at the doorstep of his presidential palace during a weekly press briefing.

''Afghanistan needs to attract more attention for the reconstruction of the country,'' he said, adding it also needed more assistance from the international community towards improving security.

Aid agency Care and the New York-based Center on International Coopeation said in September just 40 percent of the 5.2 billion dollars in aid pledged in Tokyo two years ago had been released and nearly a quarter of that had been diverted to short-term emergency needs from long-term Afghan reconstruction.

Afghans often complain about the slow pace of reconstruction work and say it is essential to improve security, which the U.S.-led forces and NATO peacekeepers are trying to restore.

The U N meeting will be a follow-up to the donors' conference in Tokyo two years ago and a U N-backed agreement in Bonn that brought Karzai to power after U S-led troops toppled the radical Taliban.

The conference is being held ahead of the first presidential polls due in June, amid high concerns over rising violence, mostly blamed on ousted Taliban.

Only about 370,000 of an estimated 10 million voters have been registered so far because the United Nations and other aid agencies consider vast areas of the country's east and south as dangerous to work.

Some 500 people including civilians, militants, aid workers, Afghan troops and over a dozen soldiers from the U.S.-led forces have been killed in eastern and southern Afghanistan since August, the bloodiest violence since the fall of the Taliban's Islamic regime.








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