Afghan President Hamid Karzai opened an international conference on Tuesday aimed at charting a new course on how billions in development aid are to be spent in the next few years.
Enhancing the capacity of the Afghan security forces, political reform, reconciliation with Taliban militants and improving governance, including the fight against endemic administrative corruption, are high on the agenda of the Kabul Conference, attended by nearly 70 international representatives.
The delegates include representatives from 57 countries, including 40 foreign ministers and 11 representatives from regional and international organizations, among them UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Times of India reports.
The Afghan leader had put forth the goal of a security handover by 2014 last November, as he was inaugurated for a second presidential term. Since then, the sense of urgency surrounding an exit strategy for the West has grown dramatically.
The Obama administration has already set a target of July 2011 for the start of a drawdown of nearly 100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. However, officials have stressed that will depend on conditions on the ground, The Los Angeles Times informs.
The Ilyushin 20 (Il-20) military electronic reconnaissance aircraft of the Russian Air Force with 14 servicemen on board that went off radar screens off the coast of Syria was shot down by Syrian air defense systems over the Mediterranean Sea