Rumsfeld Makes Surprise Visit to Afghanistan
11 July 2006
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made a surprise visit to Afghanistan to consult with the country's president. Rumsfeld insisted the country's Taleban-led insurgency will be defeated, despite a recent surge in violence.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai immediately after he arrived early Tuesday in Kabul.
During a joint press conference, Rumsfeld, without specifically naming Pakistan, blamed much of the violence plaguing Afghanistan on insurgents based across the border.
"There is no question but that there is come cross activity, Taleban and al Qaida ... and it is something that needs to be worked on, on both sides of the border," said Rumsfeld.
But he said there has been increased cooperation from Pakistan in containing militants.
His comments echo earlier assertions from U.S. and Afghan officials that insurgents have established hideouts and training camps inside Pakistan's remote tribal areas along the Afghan border.
Pakistan, which has deployed about 80,000 troops to the region, strongly rejects charges that it is not doing enough to combat the militants.
The visit is Rumsfeld's eleventh trip to Afghanistan since U.S. forces ousted the strict Islamist Taleban regime in 2001.
Violence recently has surged throughout the country, including several bomb blasts last week in the once-safe capital.
Troops from the U.S.-led foreign coalition and Afghan forces have responded with a massive counter-insurgency campaign across southern Afghanistan, considered the Taleban's traditional stronghold.
More than 600 people, mostly militants, have been killed in recent weeks, including about 30 killed Tuesday during a coalition raid on an extremist hideout.
The violence is fueling concern that the country's new democracy and the international forces that support it are losing ground to Taleban militants.
Rumsfeld said the insurgents remain determined, but insisted they would be defeated.
"They are not going to succeed," he said. "They tried to succeed in preventing the Afghan people from voting, from crafting a constitution, from electing a parliament, from electing a president, and they failed in every instance. But they are determined to try to prevent a success here."
There are more than 22,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, though many are expected to leave later this year when NATO assumes command of security operations in southern Afghanistan.
Rumsfeld also called for European country's to step up their support for Afghanistan's war on drugs.
More than 90-percent of the world's illicit opium supply comes from Afghanistan and drug profits are thought to be funding insurgent activity.
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