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NATO reaffirms 'long-term commitment' to Afghanistan
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Taliban remains the biggest threat

Since the Taliban regime was toppled in 2001, Taliban rebels have never halted their bomb attacks and other types of assault against foreign troops in Afghanistan.

Escalating violence left more than 8,000 people dead in 2007 alone, making the year the bloodiest since the fall of the Taliban leadership six years ago.

In addition, Taliban militants see NATO's reluctance to contribute more troops to Afghanistan as a setback for the alliance and vow to continue the conflict as long as the foreign troops remain in the country.

Mullah Mohammad Omar, the elusive leader of the Taliban, said in a statement in February: "The United States has failed in Afghanistan and is attempting to bring more troops from European nations to this country just in order to hide its failure."

As the Taliban has threatened to launch its spring offensive, analysts predict that increasingly fierce suicide bombings and roadside blasts could take place in 2008.

International aid to Afghanistan ineffective

Apart from military missions in Afghanistan, foreign aid is as important for the development and reconstruction of the war-battered country.

However, according to the latest study released by the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR) late March, the development assistance to Afghanistan had been inadequate and, in many cases, wasteful or ineffective, jeopardizing economic growth and security in the country.

The report said the international community has pledged some 25 billion U.S. dollars in aid to Afghanistan from 2002 to 2008, but only 15 billion dollars has been delivered.

The report also stressed the "disproportionate" amount of aid being used for military objectives rather than reducing poverty.

While the U.S. military spends 100 million dollars a day, the average of aid spent by all donor countries combined has been only 7 million dollars since 2001, said the report.

Kai Eide, the newly appointed U.N. special representative to Afghanistan, stressed the role of coordination as he arrived in Kabul.

Aid needs to be spent according to the Afghan government's plans and priorities, and to bring more visible progress, said Eide.

(Xinhua News Agency April 7, 2008)

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