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Senator Calls for Permanent US Military Bases in Afghanistan

Senator John McCain has called for permanent U.S. military bases in Afghanistan to protect the security interests of the two countries. The former presidential candidate made the remark in Kabul, where he and four other senators held talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Senator McCain told reporters in Kabul the long-term security interests of the United States and Afghanistan call for strong cooperation between the two in all fields.

"We meant by that economic assistance, technical assistance military partnership, including, and - this is a personal view - joint military permanent bases," he said.

The senator, a Republican from the state of Arizona, says the American people admire the economic and political progress Afghanistan is making. He says the United States is committed to strengthening both military and economic ties with the country.

"We also want to declare our commitment to a long-term strategic partnership that we believe must endure for many, many years," he said. "Not only for the good of the Afghan people, but also for the good of the American people."

The United States has about 17,000 troops in Afghanistan helping the Afghan government with security and fighting an on-going insurgency.

Mr. McCain is part of a five-member, bi-partisan Senate delegation traveling through the region for talks on security issues. The delegation includes Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton of New York.

Monday, the lawmakers were in neighboring Pakistan for talks with President Pervez Musharraf, a close U.S ally in the war on terrorism. They later praised Mr. Musharraf for his "courageous leadership" in the fight against terrorism and extremism.