U.S. Helps Foot Bill for Afghan Police Salary Boost

KABUL -- The Afghan government is raising police salaries by as much as two-thirds, with the U.S. and others footing the bill, in an effort to rein in corruption and boost recruitment.

The central government will increase Afghan National Police monthly pay in volatile provinces to $240 from $180, and in nonvolatile provinces to $200 from $120, Interior Ministry spokesman Zamarai Bashari said. He said the U.S. has pledged to pay for the wage increase for the first year, and other donor countries will contribute in subsequent years.

The move is part of an effort to bolster Afghan security forces in the face of a growing insurgency. As the Obama administration has considered options for a new Afghan war strategy, U.S. officials have recently focused attention on an option combining bringing in added forces for both combat and training.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said this week he is "optimistic" that NATO countries are set to increase the number of troops that they contribute to the war.

A competent, professional police force will be essential for an eventual handover of responsibilities by the U.S.-led Western troops deployed here. President Hamid Karzai said in his inauguration address this month that he wants Afghan forces to take the lead within five years.

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