Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has made it clear: Her country is not turning its back on Afghanistan once Australian troops depart the Asian country in 2014.
Gillard and Afghan President Hamid Karzai sealed a long-term partnership between their countries on May 20, during a bilateral meeting at the NATO summit in Chicago.
The partnership indicates an increase in Australian aid to Afghanistan from the current 165 million Australian dollars ($162 million) to AU$250 million per year by 2015-16.
An increase in Afghan aid has the support of the federal opposition. Sen. David Johnston, a high-ranking lawmaker of the Australian federal opposition, has specifically called for “a dramatic increase” in AusAID’s presence in the war-torn Islamic nation.
The partnership partly validates earlier reports that Australia was cooking a new aid program for Afghanistan that focuses on agriculture and rural development. It aims to help expand delivery of basic health and education services, enhance governance and public financial management, improve livelihoods and advance rural development.
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