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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - WASHINGTON — The Biden administration hopes to send almost $300 million in extra civilian aid to Afghanistan this year, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Wednesday as the United States prepares to pull out its troops from the war-hit country.
“President Biden was clear that while the United States will withdraw military forces from Afghanistan, our support for the country will continue,” Blinken said in a press statement adding: “As part of our commitment to invest in and support the Afghan people, we are working with Congress to provide nearly $300 million in additional civilian assistance for Afghanistan in 2021 from both the Department of State and the United States Agency for International Development.”
The US secretary of state also said the assistance, which the US announced at the quadrennial donors’ conference in November 2020 as potentially being available at a future date, is being made available now to demonstrate Washington’s enduring support for the Afghan people.
“The funding will be targeted at sustaining and building on the gains of the past 20 years by improving access to essential services for Afghan citizens, promoting economic growth, fighting corruption and the narcotics trade, improving health and education service delivery, supporting women’s empowerment, enhancing conflict resolution mechanisms, and bolstering Afghan civil society and independent media,” Blinken was quoted as saying.
“As the United States begins withdrawing our troops, we will use our civilian and economic assistance to advance a just and durable peace for Afghanistan and a brighter future for the Afghan people,” the US secretary of state added in the statement.
This boost in aid comes one week after President Joe Biden announced all troops will leave Afghanistan by Sept. 11, ending the longest war in US history. Some critics worry this withdrawal will put Afghanistan in a precarious position, emboldening the Taliban as it fights to take territory from the government. On Wednesday, Blinken framed the latest bout of civilian aid as proof the United States is still committed to the country even if troops leave. — Agencies
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