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Envoy Says White House Wants More Afghan Aid

October 06, 2003|From Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan — A visiting U.S. envoy said Sunday that the Bush administration plans to ask for an additional $1.2 billion in aid for Afghanistan -- more than doubling the amount already set aside for the war-ravaged country this year.

If Congress approved the funding, it would bring the total for 2003 to about $2 billion, Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage said.

Armitage said the money would go toward rebuilding the country, but did not elaborate. Afghanistan was previously ruled by the militant Taliban regime, which was toppled by a U.S.-led invasion in late 2001.

The United States is Afghanistan's largest donor. In March, it promised to contribute $820 million in aid this year.

The offer of additional funding comes despite the suspension of several reconstruction projects because of attacks by Taliban fighters against U.S. forces, aid workers and the U.S.-backed Afghan government.

A week ago, a U.S. soldier was killed and two others were wounded in a clash.

Armitage said the violence did not represent a resurgence of the Taliban movement.

"What you are witnessing is a Taliban who is frightened. They see the writing on the wall. That's why they are attacking so viciously," he said.

Earlier Sunday during a visit to Kandahar, Armitage praised Pakistan for its crackdown on suspected terrorist bases.

"In recent days there have been some rather significant activities that the Pakistani forces have taken against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and I think this is a very good omen and I have no doubt it will continue," he said.

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