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Allies Promise Continued Support For Afghanistan

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with Afghanistan's Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah (R) during the Conference on Afghanistan in London on December 4.

The United States, Britain, and other allies have promised not to abandon Afghanistan's new government, responding to pleas by Kabul for continued support as the international security mission winds down.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and British Prime Minister David Cameron hosted envoys from over 60 countries in London on December 4 for a conference on security, corruption, and political reform in Afghanistan.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the government of Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah had already delivered on some major issues since taking office in September, in the first democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan's history.

Ghani and former presidential rival Abdullah formed a power-sharing government after months of bickering over election results.

"We are confident that the policies outlined today by President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah will result in a more stable and prosperous Afghanistan," Kerry told the conference.

"This is an extraordinary moment of transition and the possibilities are so enormous," said Kerry, adding, "We have a government in Kabul that merits our confidence."

The conference had not been expected to produce new financial aid pledges.

Possible Aid

But Kerry on December 4 promised to ask the U.S. Congress to approve "extraordinary" but unspecified levels of new aid through 2017.

Over the last four years, the United States has sent Afghanistan's government $8 billion in assistance.

Kerry also said Washington and Kabul are trying to open investment opportunities for Afghans in the U.S. by issuing multiple-entry visas for business travelers, students, and tourists.

Cameron assured Afghans that "we are with you every step of the way."

Ghani said at the end of the conference, "History will not be repeated. We have overcome the past. We ask all our partners and neighbors to stand with us because no country is a fortress."

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif outlined a nine-point plan for Afghanistan's development, centred on strengthening regional economic ties.

"Pakistan remains in strong solidarity with the people of Afghanistan," he told the conference.

The 13-year international combat mission in Afghanistan concludes at the end of this month.

Ghani has signed security agreements with Washington and NATO allowing a continued noncombat international military presence of some 13,000.

Insurgents have sought to destabilize Ghani's government and discourage international agencies with a series of high-profile attacks in Kabul.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, AP, and dpa