Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said the next leader of Afghanistan must restore women's rights and give them a voice in government.
"The rights of the women in Afghanistan will not be negotiable," Powell said.
At a White House briefing, Powell said U.S. officials have stressed to potential leaders that Afghan women, especially those with professional skills, would be an invaluable asset in bringing order to a country already decimated by war and the brutality of the Taliban.
"The recovery of Afghanistan must entail a restoration of the rights of Afghan women," Powell said. "Indeed, it will not be possible without them."
Powell's remarks were part of a series of White House events focused on the treatment of women under the Taliban. White House officials said the Bush administration is trying to highlight Afghan women without dictating their place in society.