U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is encouraging rebels of the Northern Alliance to move on the Afghan capital of Kabul.
In the wake of recent U.S. air attacks against Taleban front line positions north of Kabul, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the United States is eager to help the Northern Alliance go after Taleban forces any way they can.
Secretary Rumsfeld: "We hope they prevail. We are anxious to have them effectively conquer and defeat and expel the foreign invaders of al-Qaida and to defeat and throw out the Taleban, which has been such a brutal regime for that country. And we will do almost everything we can to be helpful."
Jim Malone: "So, if they can move into Kabul right away, they should?"
Secretary Rumsfeld: "I think that, oh, you bet. Anyone can do anything they want. We don't control what is going on on the ground. We are trying to be helpful to the people on the ground and we would like to see every city held by the Taleban taken."
U.S. forces have increasingly targeted Taleban positions north of Kabul in recent days in the wake of complaints from some rebel commanders that the United States was not doing enough to help them in their battle against the Taleban.
Mr. Rumsfeld also says he is confident that whatever government eventually replaces the Taleban will be an improvement over the current situation. "Taleban is going to go," he said. "Al-Qaida is going to go. They are going to be gone. It is just a matter of time. How long, I don't know. And when they are gone, something else will be there and we can be absolutely certain it will be better."
Some analysts have suggested that any new government that may be formed in Afghanistan may have to include what they describe as moderate elements of the Taleban, a concept Defense Secretary Rumsfeld finds troubling.
Secretary Rumsfeld: "We are delighted that people, other countries, are working together with different organizations to try to see what might be done to be helpful to the elements within Afghanistan. But in the last analysis, the people of Afghanistan are going to decide what the government is going to look like. They live there and these other countries don't live there."
Jim Malone: "Would we have a problem if that new government included so-called moderate members of the Taleban, if there are such individuals?"
Secretary Rumsfeld: "Well, that is a strange combination, moderate with Taleban. I don't know that it is a good fit."
Mr. Rumsfeld says the immediate task for the United States and its coalition partners is to get rid of the al-Qaida terrorist network and its Taleban supporters and at the same time provide humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people.