Australia has said it will provide $1 billion aid to Afghanistan over four years which will be spent on rural jobs, education and developing the resource-rich nation’s mining industry.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr made the announcement at the Tokyo conference on Afghanistan attended by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

India and other key world powers pledged a total $16 billion of aid to Afghanistan over four years but called on Kabul to crack down on corruption. Australia committed to providing around $250 million for four years from 2015-16.

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr quoted by Brisbane Times said, ”We are leading the way with the United States, Germany and Japan,” Mr Carr said from the 70-nation conference. ”This is the broadest coalition in human history. Russia, China, Pakistan, India – they are all part of a coalition standing for a sovereign Afghanistan.

Signing the deal in Tokyo yesterday, the Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, said it would lift Australia’s contribution from $165 million to $250 million a year by 2015-16, making Australia Afghanistan’s sixth-biggest donor.

He also said, ”Contrary to what’s most probably the public impression, there has been progress. In Uruzgan Province, where Australia’s commitment is focused, there are now more than 200 schools, up from about 30 a decade ago, and now there are 30 dedicated girls schools, when there were none before. There are now millions of females in Afghanistan’s school system, whereas a decade ago there were thousands.”

Australia’s aid will also go towards rural development including community infrastructure like footpaths, drains and canals, and agriculture. He also said that he had raised the issue of anti- corruption measures with Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul.