Turkey hosts summit on Afghan future

Senior diplomats will gather in Turkey on Wednesday for a global conference aimed at mapping out the future of war-torn Afghanistan after Western troops depart.

Representatives from 20 countries will join aid agency members at the talks in Istanbul almost 10 years after the Taliban were driven out of power in Kabul.

The summit is intended to chart the way ahead for Afghanistan, with the US-led NATO mission already locked into troop drawdowns that are scheduled to bring all foreign combat troops home by 2014.

Despite the billions of dollars poured into the country since coalition forces ousted the Taliban from power in mid-November 2001, Afghanistan remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Half of its 30 million population lives below poverty line, according to the United Nations.

The gathering takes place a day after a trilateral summit hosted by Turkish President Abdullah Gul: Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Asif Zardari of Pakistan travelled to Istanbul in a bid to ease tensions and promote cooperation between the two neighbours.

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