Reuters International

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An international conference on Afghanistan in Brussels next week is expected to pledge over $3 billion a year in development support to the Central Asian nation up to the end of 2020, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday.

Richard Olson, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told a forum in Washington that the U.S. government would seek via Congress to maintain U.S. assistance to Afghanistan "at, or near" current levels for the period.

The European Union and Afghanistan will host a donor conference on Oct. 4-5 in Brussels to seek backing for reforms to stabilize and develop the country. Some 70 states and 30 international organizations and agencies will attend.

It comes in the context of a greatly scaled-back U.S. and international military presence in Afghanistan, and is aimed at helping the Kabul government establish an agenda for increased self-reliance.

Olson said he expected the Afghan government to announce "ambitious" medium-term plans to wean itself of donor support and stimulate economic growth.

"We expect strong pledges of renewed support to be announced next week, collectively totaling over $3 billion a year in development support through 2020," he said.

Olson said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry would be "ready to indicate clearly American intentions to maintain a strong leadership role within the broad coalition of allies and partners engaged in Afghanistan."

Olson stressed the assistance was "not a blank check" and would be dependent on Afghan progress in carrying out reforms, including countering corruption.

Earlier this month India promised $1 billion in aid to Afghanistan during a visit to New Delhi by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by Diane Craft and Paul Simao)


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