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Bern repeats pledges for Afghanistan

Switzerland has reiterated its commitment to help the population and institutions of Afghanistan at a conference in The Hague.

The aim on Tuesday was to strengthen and coordinate better international support for Afghanistan.

The head of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Martin Dahinden, confirmed Bern's political support, which went hand in hand with "a consolidation of its long-term civil commitment", according to a foreign ministry statement.

But he repeated the need to tackle the root causes of poverty, extremism and violence. He also stressed the importance of human rights and of international humanitarian law.

Afghanistan benefits from a special SDC programme. Since 2002 the SDC has run a coordination office in Kabul, which has recently been strengthened.

Its priorities are to improve the living conditions for Afghanis and to strengthen governance and protection. In SDC programmes, there is a particular emphasis on improving the situation of women.

The foreigh ministry also supports activities in Afghanistan, for example in the field of culture. Switzerland's activity in Afghanistan since 2008 has been essentially civil.

The Swiss contribution has amounted in the course of recent years to about SFr 20 million a year ($17.5 million) and should continue at this level (2009: SFr 19.7 million).

This year, there will be a particular emphasis on support for the election process, with a contribution of SFr2 million.

swissinfo with agencies

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