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US Envoy Outlines Need to Stabilize Pakistan and Afghanistan

By Jason Strother
18 April 2009

An international donors' conference in Japan has raised $5 billion to help Pakistan rebuild its economy and confront militant groups.

The United States and Japan each pledged $1 billion, but Washington's special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, says large donations from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Iran send a clear message that stabilizing Pakistan is a global concern.

"It demonstrates the international support that Pakistan is now receiving. And I hope that the people of Pakistan understand the huge significance of such a outpouring of support of countries of such diversity," he said.

Holbrooke underscored the dangers that a resurgent Taliban and terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda, who have a stronghold in western Pakistan, pose to the international community.

"These are the men who committed the atrocities of 9/11 in the United States, who attacked Mumbai, who planned the attacks in Spain and Britain, who killed Benazir Bhutto, and who have attacked inside Pakistan," he said. "I have no doubt whatsoever that they are planning attacks as we sit here in Tokyo on other capitols and other opportunities around the world."

The envoy says what happens in Pakistan also has a direct impact on the ongoing war in Afghanistan. Militants continue to launch attacks on U.S. and coalition forces using the frontier region as their base.

And this issue is of special interest to many in Japan. During the administration of former U.S. president George W. Bush, Washington asked Tokyo to commit ground forces in addition to the naval support it had already dispatched.

Holbrooke says he will not press Japan on this matter.

" I'm not going to tell Japan what to do with its self defense forces, that's for them to decide and I would never come to Japan and tell them to send troops unless they wish to. There are many other ways to assist. I think the naval deployment in the Indian Ocean is very important, particularly with the new piracy problems," he said.

Holbrooke adds that Japan has been a key partner in Afghanistan's agricultural development.

In August, Afghanistan will hold its second presidential election since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001. Holbrooke says Washington is neither supporting nor opposing any candidate who chooses to run.

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