Tags: Powell: | U.S. | Committed | Afghanistan

Powell: U.S. Committed to Afghanistan

Thursday, 17 January 2002 12:00 AM

Powell spoke in Kabul Thursday after holding talks with interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai.

At a joint news conference, Powell said: "We will be with you in this current crisis and for the future. You can take that message to the Afghan people that the American people are committed."

For his part, Karzai said Powell's visit, the first U.S. Secretary of State to visit Kabul since 1976, is a sign of Washington's commitment to Afghanistan.

"We are looking for a partnership that lasts many years," the interim Afghan leader said.

Powell also announced a $1 million contribution for a start-up fund for Afghanistan. Along with the United States, contributions to the fund will be made by the United Kingdom and other European countries in order to pay the salaries of government employees.

At their meeting, Powell assured Karzai of continued U.S. support in routing out Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters and to international efforts at rebuilding the war-torn country.

"The U.S. will continue to hunt down Taliban and al-Qaeda (fighters) until Gen. (Tommy R.) Franks decides the job is over," said Powell. "We don't want to leave any contamination behind."

His visit comes ahead of an international donors' conference on Afghanistan that begins next week in Tokyo.

Officials in Washington say that Powell will tell the donor nations that it is in their interest to participate in Afghanistan's reconstruction. Washington believes that the international community should remain engaged in Afghanistan if it wants to fight terrorism.

He is due to travel later Thursday to India, to continue efforts to defuse the tense military standoff between New Delhi and Islamabad.

In Pakistan Wednesday, Powell urged the two nations to "avoid war at any cost" and "reverse their relations" to restore peace and stability in the region. He called on the nuclear rivals to settle their disputes through diplomacy.

He held talks with Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and said the government had made progress in fighting Islamic extremism. Powell also praised Musharraf's decision last week to ban five radical Islamic groups.

New Delhi blames two of the banned groups for the Dec. 13 terrorist attack on the Indian parliament that sparked the current military crisis along India's and Pakistan's border.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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Powell spoke in Kabul Thursday after holding talks with interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai. At a joint news conference, Powell said: We will be with you in this current crisis and for the future. You can take that message to the Afghan people that the American people are...
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2002-00-17
Thursday, 17 January 2002 12:00 AM
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