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Afghan Finance Minister Rules Out Extension for Interim Government - 2002-01-10


Afghanistan's finance minister has ruled out any extension of the interim government's six-month term in office. The minister made the comments during his first official visit to Pakistan.

Finance Minister Hedayat Amin Arsala told reporters in the Pakistani capital Thursday that the Afghan government will stick to the UN-mediated Bonn agreement that outlined the country's political future. "What is critical is that we complete the political process that we have agreed on," he said, "and within six months we must have a Loya Jirga (grand assembly) that we have agreed on so that the people of Afghanistan will decide as to what kind of government, what form of government they want, what kind of leadership they want."

Mr. Arsala said the interim government will try its best to lay sound foundations for the reconstruction of war-shattered Afghanistan. "We will do our best to do whatever we can to lay the foundations for future reconstruction," he said, "but in no way will we think in terms of extending our term in order to be able to complete the process."

Finance Minister Arsala used his first official visit to Islamabad to meet with his Pakistani counterpart Shaukat Aziz and Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar. He is the first official from Afghanistan's new government to visit Pakistan.

Afghanistan's interim administration headed by Hamid Karzai took office last month after relentless US air strikes ousted the Islamic Taleban from power.

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