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Aid for Afghanistan, Not the Taliban

May 29, 2001

I write to take strong exception to Robert Scheer's May 22 commentary, which claims the United States is the main sponsor of the Taliban militia in Afghanistan. We do not support the Taliban and never have. Scheer apparently bases his claim on the fact that the U.S. is providing humanitarian assistance to Afghans. U.S. aid goes to all parts of Afghanistan and is distributed through the World Food Program and other reputable organizations directly to needy Afghans. The Taliban is not involved in any stage of this process, which cannot be seen in any way as support for this group.

We know that Afghans need this help desperately. Nearly 4 million of them face famine this year. To stand by and watch these people starve to death, simply because they happen to suffer under the Taliban, is not acceptable. Some of our assistance will go to farmers who have stopped growing opium; they and their families also face starvation. But our help to them will do no good for the Taliban, and it may even lead to a permanent drop in Afghan opium production.

Alan W. Eastham

\o7 Acting Assistant Secretary

for South Asia, State Dept.

Washington

\f7

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