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Bush Underscores Support for Afghanistan

U.S. President George Bush says progress is being made in Afghanistan, despite a recent increase in violence. VOA's Paula Wolfson reports from the White House Mr. Bush stressed his commitment during talks with the new U.N. special representative for Afghanistan, Kai Eide of Norway.

President Bush says coordinating support for Afghanistan is crucial, and U.N. efforts in this regard have the backing of the United States. He says winning the war in Afghanistan and securing the peace is key.

"The Afghan theater in this war against the extremists is a vital part of making sure that peace prevails," he said.

Following talks with the secretary-general's new envoy for Afghanistan, the president acknowledged the tough task ahead in that country. He said Kai Eide - a Norwegian diplomat who recently served as a special U.N. envoy for Kosovo - is the man for the job.

"No question there are challenges," he said. "I told the ambassador if this was easy we would not have selected - or the U.N. would not have selected - a man of his caliber to take on the task."

The talks came just a few hours after a White House news conference where President Bush was questioned about the recent attack in Kabul by extremists against Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

A reporter asked him if given all the recent violence he still believes America is winning in Afghanistan.

"We're making progress in Afghanistan, but thre's tough fighting. I'm under no illusions that this isn't tough," he said. "I know full well we're dealing with a determined enemy. I believe it's in our interest that we defeat that enemy."

Once again, the president stressed that America must either confront terrorists and extremists abroad or face them at home.

"And the notion that somehow we can let these people just kind of have their way or, you know, let's don't stir them up, is naive or disingenuous, and it's not in our nation's interests," he said. "We are in a global struggle against thugs and killers. And the United States of America has got to continue to take the lead."

His comments came on a day when Taliban militants staged another suicide bombing in eastern Afghanistan. At the same time, militants attacked an opium-eradication team in a town close to the border with Pakistan. All this as the investigation continued into the attack Sunday on the Afghan president and other dignitaries during a military ceremony in Kabul. While Hamid Karzai was unharmed, three other people were killed.