They are the key players in Afghanistan’s biggest international conference in decades.
The country’s leader Hamid Karzai wants greater control of development funds from abroad. He is also seeking support for exploring peace talks with the Taliban. On that front, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has already urged caution.
Loud blasts were heard as envoys arrived, despite a security blanket being thrown over Kabul ahead of today’s talks.
A key theme will be tackling corruption. In the Lalpura district near Jalalabad and the border with Pakistan, locals claim it is rife.
“We have a lot of problems in our village,” said one man. “There is no development. And the help we get from outside will end up in the pockets of top-ranking politicians.”
“I think it is better than in the times of the Taliban. But the help is not reaching us,” another man said.
Expanding Afghanistan’s army and police force is part of the Karzai government’s grand vision of the future. Western press reports have suggested a deal could be struck to hand over full security control from foreign to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.