Armitage pledges support for Afghanistan

Nov. 10, 2004 at 7:45 AM
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Nov. 10 (UPI) -- U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage in Kabul Wednesday pledged increased support for Afghanistan's reconstruction.

Armitage's two-day visit was the first to the country by a senior U.S. official since the Oct. 9 election of President Hamid Karzai, with whom Armitage dined Tuesday, Channel NewsAsia reported.

"The entire nation of the United States supports what is going on in Afghanistan and we will continue to do so," Armitage told reporters. He said the only likely change in the next four years, following the re-election of President George W. Bush, was greater assistance for Afghanistan.

Armitage said that the United States, which has 16,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, had no plans for a permanent military presence. He said U.S. troops were needed temporarily to pursue al-Qaida and Taliban insurgents.

He did not say when U.S. troops would withdraw. He also said he had no idea where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was hiding, but said he was confident he would be found.

Armitage visited a vocational training center for former soldiers, and was scheduled to visit non-governmental organizations doing reconstruction work before leaving the country late Wednesday.

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