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Rice Repeats Washington's Full Support for Karzai

  • Ayaz Gul

U.S Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has reiterated Washington's full support for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and promised that resurgent Taleban forces in the country will be defeated.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul Wednesday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Mr. Karzai one the most respected leaders in the world.

She dismissed reports that a rise in insurgent violence, an increase in the drug trade and allegations of corruption have undermined international support for President Karzai and his government.

"President Karzai is admired," she said. "He is admired for his courage, he is admired for his leadership. He is admired for what he has done to bring this country from civil war now to a democratically elected government."

The top U.S diplomat says a resurgence in violence by Taleban insurgents is a concern for the United States, but she says the violence will not erase democratic gains made in Afghanistan in the past several years.

At the news conference with Rice, Mr. Karzai acknowledged that Afghanistan has problems with drugs, weak institutions and fighters loyal to the former Taleban regime.

He said that he is not blind to these the challenges. But he described the achievements of his government and the international community since the fall of the Taleban nearly five years ago as immense.

On Tuesday, Rice was in Pakistan, where she, President Pervez Musharraf and other Pakistani officials discussed ways to intensify the anti-terror campaign on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Nearly 80,000 Pakistani troops are deployed on their side of the mountainous and porous border, to prevent Taleban militants from infiltrating from the Afghan side.

After the meeting with Rice, Pakistani foreign minister Khursheed Kasuri told reporters that 10,000 more troops are being sent to the border area to strengthen security there.

Kasuri rejected Afghan allegations that the Taleban insurgency is being run from Pakistani territories. He challenged the Afghans to identify the terror hideouts that they claim exist in Pakistan, and said if the Afghans do, Pakistan will take action.

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