Tags: U.S. | Declares | Afghanistan | Taliban-Free

U.S. Declares Afghanistan Taliban-Free

Tuesday, 29 January 2002 12:00 AM

The announcement, made by Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and published in the Federal Register, amends a 1999 presidential order that prohibited U.S. assistance for Afghanistan because of the Taliban rule.

The Taliban, which lost Kabul to U.S.-led forces on Nov. 13, have already surrendered all strongholds, including its main power base of Kandahar, to allied forces. It is hiding in remote corners across Afghanistan, seeking refuge among their native tribal and ethnic groups.

Tuesday's notification pointed out that Afghanistan was no longer a "territory controlled by the Taliban."

"I hereby determine as of this date that the Taliban controls no territory within Afghanistan and modify the description of the term 'territory of Afghanistan controlled by the Taliban' to reflect that the Taliban controls no territory within Afghanistan," said the notification signed by Armitage.

He made the determination on Jan. 24, but it comes into effect only after it is published in the Federal Register, the official gazette of the U.S. government.

The declaration came as Afghanistan's interim ruler, Hamid Karzai, toured Washington to seek continued support for his country.

Besides promising financial assistance, President Bush also has pledged to help Afghans rebuild a national army and a police force to restore stability to a country devastated by more than 23 years of war and civil strife.

As 14 U.S. soldiers were recovering Tuesday from injuries suffered when a helicopter made a "hard landing" in Afghanistan, Bush told a Rose Garden news conference that his decision reflects a "significant change in policy."

The United States, he said, is building a lasting relationship with Afghanistan. The administration, however, has said repeatedly that U.S. troops will not be part of a peacekeeping force.

Bush has said that al-Qaeda and Taliban detainees held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, would not be granted prisoner-of-war status. He said the 158 detainees are not POWs because the al- Qaeda terrorist network is not a known military.

In London, the British Foreign Office said the number of Britons detained by the United States has risen to five. Three Britons are at a U.S. detention facility in Cuba, and two more are being detained in Kandahar.

In Paris, a newspaper reported Tuesday that the Taliban prisoners at Guantanamo Bay

According to Le Parisien, French authorities are still trying to verify whether the passports of the six are authentic, or have been stolen or forged. If true, the news will increase international pressure on the United States to apply the Geneva Conventions to the 158 terrorists held captive at the U.S. naval base in Cuba.

The detainees claim nationalities including French, British, Danish, Algerian and Yemeni, according to European news reports.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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The announcement, made by Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and published in the Federal Register, amends a 1999 presidential order that prohibited U.S. assistance for Afghanistan because of the Taliban rule. The Taliban, which lost Kabul to U.S.-led forces on...
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2002-00-29
Tuesday, 29 January 2002 12:00 AM
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