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Afghan Leaders Outline Reform Plans At London Conference

Ashraf Ghani
Ashraf Ghani

A international conference on Afghanistan is under way in London with a focus on security, corruption, and political reform.

The December 4 conference, a show of support for Afghanistan's new leaders at a crucial time, is jointly hosted by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Opening the conference, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond cautioned about the challenges facing the new Afghan leadership, saying, "While much has been achieved, there is much, much, more to do."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah are also attending.

The conference is not expected to produce new financial aid pledges but will give a platform for Ghani and Abdullah to outline their reform plans.

Ghani was finally inaugurated in September after months of political deadlock caused by allegations of fraud following runoff presidential elections.

Ghani's opponent Abdullah initially refused to accept the results, leading to months of negotiations between him and Ghani.

Following diplomatic pressure and mediation efforts by the United States and other allies, a new national unity government was finally formed with Ghani as president, while Abdullah was given the new position of chief executive

It is meant to function like a prime minister's office, but the actual role and responsibilities of the new position are still unclear.

The new government on the first day in office signed security agreements with Washington and NATO permitting a 12,000-strong noncombat international military presence after the 13-year combat mission formally ends on December 31.

But Ghani has yet to form a stable cabinet, and Taliban insurgents have sought to destabilize his government with a series of attacks in Kabul and elsewehere in the country.

In the latest such attack, at least four police officers were killed December 3 in an attack on a checkpoint in Jowzjan Province in northern Afghanistan.

Based on reporting by AFP and AP