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Afghan envoy nominee warns on pullout

WASHINGTON, June 8 (UPI) -- Ryan Crocker, the nominee for U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, told the Senate Wednesday the war must continue to deny al-Qaida a haven for terrorism.

At his confirmation hearing before the Foreign Relations Committee, Crocker said: "Osama bin Laden's death is an important step, but much work remains to be done to ensure that al-Qaida can never again threaten us from Afghanistan with the Taliban providing safe haven."

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"Our efforts to pursue this goal are focused on three mutually reinforcing surges," he said, "military, civilian, and diplomatic, all aimed at stabilizing Afghanistan so it will not become a safe haven for terrorists again."

Crocker, a former ambassador to Iraq and Pakistan, acknowledged that Afghan government corruption is a major obstacle to that effort.

"Corruption totally unchecked becomes … a second insurgency," he said. "It undermines confidence on the part of the people in their government, and it makes groups like the Taliban look attractive."

"We're not out to clearly create a shining city on a hill. That's not going to happen. … But there needs to be progress," he said.

Crocker warned against a hasty withdrawal.

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"We walked away from Afghanistan once in 1989 with disastrous consequences. We cannot afford to do so again," he said.

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