President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai attends a graduation ceremony at a military academy in Kabul on March 22, 2012.—AFP Photo

KABUL: The international community will subsidise Afghan security forces by more than $4 billion a year for a decade after US-led combat forces leave Afghanistan in 2014, President Hamid Karzai said Thursday.

Western officials told AFP that no final agreement had been reached.

But Karzai told a graduation ceremony at a military academy in Kabul: “It’s set that post 2014, for the next 10 years until 2024 the international community, with the US in the lead and followed by Europe and other countries, will pay Afghanistan security forces $4.1 billion annually.” It would cover both the army and “other armed forces”, he said, adding: “We agree and thank them.” Karzai’s Western allies in the war against Taliban insurgents want to avoid the country descending into civil war after they leave.

But the United States recently circulated a proposal to cut Afghan forces from a targeted 352,000 in 2014 to 230,000 after Nato combat troops leave, and the $4.1 billion figure is a fraction of current Western spending on the war.

Questions remain over the military funding deal, said Karzai, with Kabul wanting to be able to spend the money on requirements other than salaries, such as weapons purchases.

“Afghanistan will be able to pay the salaries itself one day... but Afghanistan needs radar, air defence systems, warplanes, transport planes, helicopters and other equipments that improve the defence system,” he said.

“If Nato or America will not give us planes, will they prevent us using this money to buy planes for our air force from other countries? If we were to buy planes from India or Russia or Iran or Pakistan or Ukraine, will our (forces’) salaries still be paid from the Nato money?” A Western official said that a final agreement on funding had yet to be reached, describing the $4.1 billion figure as an “initial assessment by the international community and the Afghan government of the future requirement for the long-term funding of the Afghan National Security Force”.

“The discussions are taking place now,” he said, adding that the target for agreement was the Nato summit on Afghanistan’s future in Chicago in May.

Another Western official said that some coalition members were as yet unwilling to pay their projected shares of the money.

Kabul and Washington have a frequently strained relationship, and are currently negotiating a separate strategic partnership agreement to establish the relationship between them after 2014.

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