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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.

(AP/AFP)

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



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