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US to Greatly Increase Aid to Afghanistan - 2003-10-05

Deputy U.S. Secretary of State Richard Armitage says Washington plans to greatly increase its monetary aid to Afghanistan. The move marks the latest in the United States' fiscal generosity for its regional allies.

During a visit to the Afghan capital, Mr. Armitage said the Bush administration intends to more than double its original aid package to Afghanistan for the coming year.

In what he calls a "rather dramatic increase," Mr. Armitage said President George Bush is proposing an extra $1.2 billion toward rebuilding the war-shattered country. "Which would mean, if the Congress votes approval - and I predict they will - that this year alone there will be $2 billion in aid for the people of Afghanistan," he said.

Mr. Armitage said Afghan and international efforts to reconstruct the war-ravaged country are progressing well.

He said insurgent militants loyal to the former Taleban government are now on the run, despite an apparent rise in their attacks on Afghan and U.S. targets inside the country. "I think what you are witnessing is a Taleban who is frightened that they see the writing on the wall. That is why they are attacking so viciously these great signs of progress for the people of Afghanistan," he said.

Mr. Armitage said the United States also approves of neighboring Pakistan's efforts to crush the Taleban insurgents, some of whom are believed to be hiding on Pakistani territory. Earlier this year, President Bush promised Pakistan $3 billion over five years. The country has been an ally of the United States in fighting terrorism.

The U.S. diplomat is scheduled to meet Monday with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.