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Afghans weary of yet another summit ahead of Bonn Conference

An international conference on Afghanistan's future opens Monday in Bonn, Germany. But on the streets of Kabul, Afghans have low expectations a decade into the Western presence here.

A view of the World Conference Centre (WCCB), in Bonn, Germany, Saturday. On Monday, the Afghanistan Conference will take place at this venue.

Hermann J. Knippertz/AP

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As leaders from around the world gather in Bonn, Germany to discuss the future of Afghanistan the stakes could not be higher. Question marks hover over NATO and Afghan forces' progress against the insurgency, the future of US involvement after its 2014 withdrawal deadline, and which factions in the conflict Pakistan will ultimately support.

Yet for many Afghans, the second Bonn Conference is little to be excited about. International summits like it have taken place on a nearly annual basis over the past ten years and most Afghans say they’ve seen little change as a result.

“I don’t think these conferences are for the good of Afghanistan. We’ve seen many other conferences where hundreds or even thousands of people came. During conferences here in Afghanistan, they closed the roads and people suffered due to strict security policies or even died in attacks during the conference, but they changed nothing,” says Zmary Sapai, a wholesale food merchant in Kabul. “These conferences are just throwing dirt in the eyes of the Afghan people.”

On Monday the second Bonn Conference will take place 10 years after the first one gathered shortly after the fall of the Taliban government. A decade ago Afghan and international leaders gathered to create a transitional government and pave the way for a new constitution.

Today the political and security situation in Afghanistan remains far from settled and Afghan leaders at Bonn will likely be looking to secure continued international support for the decade to come as they seek to create lasting stability.

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