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Rice Says U.S. Should Not Have Abandoned Afghanistan

Kabul, 17 March 2005 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in Afghanistan today that the United States has learned from experience that abandoning that country in 1989 was a mistake.

"We have a long-term commitment to this country. We learned the hard way what it meant to not have a long-term commitment when, after the Soviet Union left, I think it is well understood that we did not remain committed, and I [told] the president [Hamid Karzai] earlier that, in many ways, September 11th was a joint tragedy of the Afghan and the American people out of that period."

In a joint press conference after meeting in the Afghan capital Kabul, Rice and Karzai announced that Afghanistan's Electoral Commission has decided on holding the country's long-delayed parliamentary elections in September. The election date has been postponed repeatedly over concerns about logistics and security.

Rice praised Afghanistan as a one-time source of terrorism that has become a fighter against terrorism.

The U.S. minister was in Kabul on a six-nation Asian trip. She visited India and Pakistan before arriving in Afghanistan. From Kabul she returned to Pakistan and will later travel to Japan, South Korea and China.


Copyright (c) 2005. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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