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Afghan Foreign Minister Appeals for Increased Aid

(Washington, DC--July 21, 2003) Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah says further funding commitments are needed from the international community to maintain stability within the country and give credibility to the government of Afghanistan. Abdullah made the remarks during a recent briefing at RFE/RL that touched on a variety of topics concerning Afghanistan.

Abdullah noted that funding from countries around the world has mostly gone to humanitarian causes in Afghanistan, Abdullah said. He said more was assistance was needed to effect long-term development in Afghanistan, and warned that without such assistance, the country could again become a breeding ground for terrorism. "If we are not able to build the infrastructure, the necessary institutions, the legal framework, what will be the future of Afghanistan? Again, an underdeveloped, illiterate population with lots of problems. And again, a ground for instability," he said. Abdullah called on the international community, including the United States, to do more to ensure that Afghanistan did not become "a failed state."

Abdullah spoke at length about the upcoming general elections in Afghanistan, scheduled to take place in just under one year. Abdullah said there were unique problems involved in organizing elections in Afghanistan, including maintaining access and communications with the many remote and mountainous regions in the country to ensure fair elections, as well as the difficulties of educating the people about various candidates.

Abdullah said that the Afghan people still have trust in the Transitional Administration of President Hamid Karzai, elected during last year's emergency Loya Jirga. But the foreign minister added that with much of the country suffering from a lack of employment, electricity, and security, that support could soon disappear. "They [the Afghan people] are giving us time. How long? This is my point. The international community should build the capacity in the central government in order to deal with the core issues of security and reconstruction in [the] economic sector," Abdullah said.

Abdullah was also asked about Afghan relations with Pakistan, which have been strained in recent weeks due to alleged Pakistani incursions along a poorly-demarcated section of the Pakistani-Afghan border. Abdullah maintained that Afghanistan would not allow "an inch" of its soil to be under "occupation." The Pakistani incursions, Abdullah said, "will not be tolerated. It is against the stability of Afghanistan."

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