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Afghan Poll: Big Support for US Military Presence


A new survey in Afghanistan shows overwhelming popular support for U.S. and international troops in the country and huge opposition to Islamic militants linked to the former Taleban regime.

A new public opinion survey says most Afghans have a favorable view of U.S.-led forces providing security in the country as well as the fledging democratic government of President Hamid Karzai.

Results of the poll were released Wednesday by the private and nonpartisan Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland.

Mr. Karzai has a 93 percent approval rating and 83 percent of those surveyed think their country is headed in the right direction. And five out of six Afghans view the U.S. military presence as positive.

The group interviewed some two thousand Afghans during November and December - after the war-torn country was to convene its first elected parliament in more than 30 years.

Speaking then, during a joint news conference with U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Mr. Karzai said Afghans have ample reason to be optimistic.

"Afghanistan is making tremendously good progress in with regards to institution building," he said. "We now have possession of elected institutions on which we shall build the future of Afghanistan."

It has been more than four years since the U.S. led coalition ousted the militant Taleban regime for harboring al Qaida terrorists and helped clear the way for Afghanistan's democratic reforms.

Around 19,000 U.S. troops are still in Afghanistan tracking Taleban insurgents in a number of restive provinces.

According to the survey, almost 90 percent of Afghans have an unfavorable view of the Taleban and fugitive al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.