• A global conference in Germany to discuss Afghanistan's future beyond 2014 comes as the country faces political instability, an enduring Taliban-led insurgency and possible financial collapse following the planned drawdown of international troops and foreign aid.

  • About 100 countries and international organizations will be represented at the gathering, with some 60 foreign ministers in attendance, among them U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

  •  Pakistan, said it will boycott the conference to protest last month's NATO air assault carried out from Afghan territory that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

  • Pakistan is seen as crucial player in the region because of its links and influence on insurgent groups that are battling Afghan government and foreign troops and that sometimes use Pakistan as a base for their operations.

  • The Bonn conference is expected to address the transfer of security responsibility from international forces to Afghan security forces over the next three years, long-term prospects for international aid and a possible political settlement with the Taliban.