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Richard Roth: Pledges to rebuild Afghanistan

CNN's Richard Roth  

TOKYO, Japan (CNN) -- Representatives from about 60 countries and organizations are meeting in Tokyo to explore how to begin rebuilding Afghanistan after two decades of war.

The countries, including the United States, Japan and Germany, are promising hundreds of millions of dollars. But U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the two-day conference that the real test isn't in the pledges but in whether the countries make good on them.

CNN's Jack Cafferty spoke Monday to CNN correspondent Richard Roth, who is covering the Tokyo conference.

CNN: Richard, what can you tell us?

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ROTH: The donations have exceeded what the hopes were of the Afghan government on Day One of this Afghanistan recovery conference. The United States is pitching in with nearly $300 million. Overall ... Afghanistan has promises now of $2.7 billion. A million here, a million there, Jack, and soon you're going to have a country.

But there is still a long way to go. Right now, the focus is on getting high-impact jobs, positions, roads, infrastructure, security in place with the first rush of money.

CNN: What is the Bush administration concerned about? There are some reservations about how this money may be used. What are they worried about?

ROTH: The reservations from Washington and other governments are [whether] the money will actually be received by the people who are supposed to get it and that these projects will indeed start.

To address some of those concerns, [interim Afghan leader] Hamid Karzai said that he was going to bring in international outside auditors and that corruption was the No. 1 goal to fight. When these countries start from scratch, there has been a lot of money wasted over the years.

The United Nations says it has learned some lessons. These countries are very hesitant. They want to see and hear for sure what's going to happen before they really even commit more money.

CNN: How serious is the cash shortage?

ROTH: The cash shortage is so severe that the United Nations had to ship in -- over the weekend through locked boxes -- $6 million in cash for the first month of government salaries.




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