Pakistan, enraged by the killing of 24 officers and men by American warplanes in an accident during a fire fight with insurgents on its border with Afghanistan, is not only boycotting the Bonn meetings - it has closed the two main supply routes to Nato forces battling the Taliban.
William Hague, the foreign secretary, Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, and other nations contributing to the Afghan campaign are gathering under the chairmanship of Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president.
His unpredictable, some say petulant, attitude to the West will have to be reined in. He knows, as do his donors, that the survival of his government and probably his own physical longevity, will depend on a recognition among delegates that they will have to fund him well beyond the 2014 date set for an end to Nato combat operations.
The truth was summed up by a British official: "Failure to understand this will lead to conflict".
"The lesson [of history] is that not only did the Russians withdraw in 1989 - they withdrew funding for the government and civil war followed". Read More