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Terrorism Still Top Threat for Afghanistan, says Foreign Minister - 2003-11-12


Afghanistan's Foreign Minister says the top threat still facing his country is terrorism. But in an interview with VOA during his current visit to Washington, the Afghan official also highlighted the progress made since the fall of of the Taleban, two years ago.

Visiting Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah responded to concerns that his government is trying to paint a rosy picture of the situation in Afghanistan. He did not say whether things had improved so much that the country would be able to hold elections next year, as scheduled. But he said even being able to talk about the possibility of elections is an improvement.

"In the country which was ruled by al-Qaida just two years ago, most parts of it, we're talking about the possibility of elections in June, 2004," he said. "That, in itself, is already a very, very positive change. In the same country, three million refugees were resettled. That shows progress. It couldn't have happened without progress on the ground."

The Afghan official said some of the challenges that remain are the negative consequences of decades of war and destruction. But he added that there are al-Qaida and Taleban remnants - or people he called enemies of Afghanistan - who are still seeking to cause disruptions.

Meanwhile, Mr. Abdullah said he expects what he described as a very "lively" upcoming meeting of the traditional grand council, or Loya Jirga, which will hammer out a new constitution.

"I think the constitution of Afghanistan, the draft constitution which we have seen and being worked out, which will be reviewed by the Loya Jirga in a few weeks time, it will lay the right foundation for a democratic Afghanistan, which its citizens will live at peace in dignity within Afghanistan and enjoy good relations with the rest of the world as a partner.," he said.

Meanwhile, in Kabul, Afghan president Hamid Karzai warned against the possibility that guerrillas could step up attacks as the country prepares to mark the second anniversary of the end of Taleban rule. His words come one day after unidentified attackers shot and killed a Romanian soldier serving as part of the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan.

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