US national captured with Taliban set to appear Thursday in court
Thursday January 24, 6:29 AM AFP
John Walker Lindh, the US national accused of fighting for the Taliban in Afghanistan against US-backed troops, is scheduled to appear in court after being returned to the United States, justice officials said.
Walker is to appear at 9:00 am (1400 GMT) before US Magistrate Judge Weldon Sewell in the district court in suburban Alexandria, Virginia, on charges of conspiring to kill US nationals and supporting terrorist groups, said Paul McNulty, US attorney for the eastern district of Virginia.
Walker was expected to arrive late Wednesday at Dulles International Airport outside of Washington.
He left Kandahar airport in Afghanistan late Tuesday aboard a US military C-17 aircraft under tight security.
The 20-year-old Muslim convert, also known as Suleyman al-Faris or Abdul Hamid, was placed in leg irons for the trip back to the United States, the Pentagon said.
"He will now get the justice he deserves," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.
"That's one of the reasons the United States win wars. It's because people like John Walker deserve and receive the judgment that they get from their fellow citizens."
At his initial court appearance, Walker will get another chance to say if he wants legal representation, Justice Department spokesman Bryan Sierra said.
He waived his right to an attorney last month before being questioned by US Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, but his family has hired George Harris and James Brosnahan, two San Francisco, California, attorneys, to represent him.
Harris could not immediately be reached for comment and Brosnahan's office declined to discuss the case.
Walker was captured in northern Afghanistan and then survived a bloody uprising by Taliban and al-Qaeda prisoners at a fort near Mazar-i-Sharif before coming to the attention of US authorities.
Walker told FBI agents who interviewed him aboard a US naval ship he joined a paramilitary training camp run by Harakat ul-Mujahedin, a militant group fighting to expel India from Kashmir, in May and was given the option of fighting with them or joining the Taliban in Afghanistan, according to a government affidavit filed in the case.
After presenting himself to the Taliban, who deemed his language skills insufficient, he approached al-Qaeda, the Arab-dominated militant group blamed for deadly September 11 suicide attacks on the United States, which told him he needed more military training to join them, the affidavit said.
After seven weeks of weapons, explosives and combat training at an al-Qaeda camp, Walker chose to fight with the Taliban, declining an offer to conduct attacks on Israel or the United States, the affidavit said.
In the camp, Walker met al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and learned that the group had sent people to the United States to carry out suicide operations about three months before September 11, the affidavit said.
Walker faces life in prison if convicted on the conspiracy charge. As a US citizen, he is not under the jurisdiction of military tribunals planned by President George W. Bush to try suspected terrorists.
He is to be held until his trial in the Alexandria city jail, where French national Zacarias Moussaoui, charged in the September 11 attacks, also is being held, city officials said.
Security around the jail has been increased, with new barricades and fences erected and other measures which officials will not discuss, Alexandria Sheriff James Dunning said.
Thursday January 24, 5:10 AM
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) - A close associate of Taliban chief Mullah Mohammad Omar surrendered his weapons and vehicles to the Afghan authorities in the southern city of Kandahar on Wednesday, a government spokesman said.
Khalid Pashtoon told Reuters the warlord of the Noorzai tribe, Haji Bashar, gave up about 1,200 firearms and 30 vehicles to Kandahar governor Gul Agha in Maiwand district.
"Negotiations took place over a period of 12 days or so," Pashtoon said.
Haji Bashar is widely known as a wealthy figure with houses in Kandahar and Quetta, capital of Pakistan's Baluchistan province.
He fought Soviet forces that occupied Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989, and is widely credited with making a fortune in trading cloth, tea and opium across the border with Iran.
"He pledged to live peacefully and to cooperate with the new interim government," Pashtoon said. "He has also promised to give up his opium smuggling operations," he said.
Haji Bashar was an early supporter of the austere Taliban movement that ruled Afghanistan for six years until it was toppled by opposition Northern Alliance forces and U.S. bombing.
The U.S. offensive was prompted by the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington after Mullah Omar and his Taliban regime refused to handover Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden.
The United States has said it believes bin Laden was the mastermind behind the September 11 hijack attacks which left more than 3,000 people dead and destroyed the 110-storey twin towers of New York's World Trade Center.
Pashtoon said Haji Bashar was expected to provide information about his former allies and cooperate with Afghanistan's interim government, installed after the fall of the Taliban.
Afghan authorities in Kandahar have been trying to win over former Taliban supporters and associates in their former stronghold through persuasion rather than confrontation, allowing those who submit to the interim administration to remain at liberty.
Governor Gul Agha has vowed to track down and arrest Mullah Omar saying he believes the one-eyed cleric is still in Afghanistan and moving from place to place.
Osama bin Laden's whereabouts are not known.
Thursday January 24, 3:40 AM
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP)--U.S. special forces and their Afghan allies confiscated thousands of weapons from a local warlord Wednesday as they pressed the search for Taliban and al-Qaida renegades in southern Afghanistan.
At the U.S. military base outside Kandahar, the FBI director said members of Osama bin Laden's terror network detained here have provided valuable information that has prevented new attacks against U.S. targets worldwide.
Elsewhere, tensions were reported rising around the eastern town of Khost because of rivalries between local warlords in an area believed to include Taliban and al-Qaida renegades.
In the southern province of Helmand, anti-Taliban fighters and U.S. special forces troops searched house-to-house in four villages looking for al-Qaida and Taliban renegades, including the deposed Islamic militia's supreme leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, according to Afghan sources.
The search turned up no trace of the one-eyed mullah, who refused to turn over bin Laden for his role in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.
However, special forces and their Afghan allies confiscated about 2,000 weapons ranging from small arms to heavy artillery, according to Khalid Pashtun, an aide to Kandahar Gov. Gul Agha.
Pashtun said the weapons were taken without incident Wednesday from a local warlord in Helmand province, Haji Bashar, as part of a campaign to bolster security in the volatile region.
Helmand and other southern provinces were Taliban strongholds and among the last areas handed over by the Islamic militia after it collapsed last year following intense American airstrikes and attacks by the U.S.-backed northern alliance.
After the Taliban collapse, hundreds of prisoners were taken to the U.S. base at Kandahar airport for interrogation and ultimately for transfer to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
During an unannounced visit Wednesday to the Kandahar base, FBI Director Robert Mueller said some of those prisoners had provided valuable information that has helped authorities prevent new terrorist attacks.
"Information we have picked up since the war has prevented additional attacks around the world," Mueller said. "Interrogations from al-Qaida members detained here in Afghanistan as well as documents ... has prevented additional attacks against U.S. facilities around the world."
Mueller refused to elaborate. However, one prisoner -al-Qaida training camp commander Ibn Al-Shaykh al-Libi -warned of an impending attack on the U.S. Embassy in Yemen this week, according to Yemeni officials.
Last month, Singapore authorities arrested suspects they said were plotting attacks against the U.S. Embassy and other targets. The authorities said hand-written notes and a videotape found in Afghanistan helped lead them to the suspects.
Although the U.S. bombing campaign is largely over, U.S. special forces have intensified the search for remaining Taliban and al-Qaida members. The search, however, has been complicated by rivalries among tribal leaders, some of whom switched sides during the fighting last year.
In the eastern town of Khost, several warlords are competing for recognition by the U.S.-backed interim government of Hamid Karzai.
On Wednesday, the Afghan Islamic Press, based in Pakistan, reported that fighters loyal to one of them, Zakim Khan, had captured most government, military and intelligence facilities in Khost from loyalists of a bitter rival, Bacha Khan Zadran.
Zakim Khan told AIP that he wanted Karzai to send a delegation to mediate the standoff.
But Amanaullah Zadran, brother of Bacha Khan and the government's minister of border and tribal affairs, said by telephone that his brother's forces were in complete control and that there had been no fighting.
Amanullah said three tribes had told Khan to leave Khost by Thursday. Other Afghan sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed tensions were running high in the Khost area, where Army Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Ross Chapman was killed in an ambush Jan. 4, the first U.S. soldier killed in combat.
In other developments:
- China offered Wednesday to provide economic assistance to rebuild Afghanistan. The offer was made to Karzai, the interim leader, during a visit to Beijing following a two-day conference in Tokyo, during which donor nations promised $4.5 billion in aid for his country.
- U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrived Wednesday in Pakistan for talks with Pakistani leaders on the situation in Afghanistan. Annan will travel on Friday to Kabul, the Afghan capital.
- Pakistan has tentatively agreed to allow the U.S. and its allies full access to the country's largest airport as a hub for Afghan operations. Ali ud-Din, director general of Pakistan's Civil Aviation Agency, said an agreement will be signed soon to open Karachi International Airport to the U.S.-led coalition, enabling more than a dozen flights and hundreds of passengers to pass through the facility daily.
By John Ruwitch
BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji said on Wednesday his country would do everything it could to help rebuild Afghanistan as its interim leader Hamid Karzai backed China's fight against Islamic separatists in its far west.
Karzai arrived in Beijing on Wednesday for two-days of talks, fresh from Tokyo where international donors had promised more than $4.5 billion in aid. Afghan and Chinese foreign ministers inked agreements on Beijing's own modest aid package.
"China is ready to provide assistance to the best of our ability to your effort of reconstruction," Zhu told Karzai.
China, which shares a narrow and remote border with Afghanistan, offered $1 million for rebuilding the Central Asian country in addition to 30 million yuan ($3.6 million) in humanitarian aid due to arrive soon.
China's leaders, wary about the presence of U.S. troops in its backyard after the September 11 attacks on the United States, are keen to see peace and stability return to Afghanistan.
China says that, under the former Taliban regime, the country was the training ground for of hundreds of Muslims connected to a small separatist movement in its far Western region of Xinjiang.
Earlier this week, Beijing said the separatists, seeking a state called East Turkestan, had direct links to Osama bin Laden, blamed by the United States for the September 11 attacks.
"The terrorist actions by a small number of 'East Turkestan' terrorists who were trained outside China have disturbed the peace and stability of China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and the Chinese government attaches great importance to this," the Xinhua news agency quoted Zhu as telling Karzai.
Interim Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah told reporters the Afghan authority was certain there were links between the Xinjiang separatists, the Taliban and bin Laden's al Qaeda network and offered China total cooperation on the issue.
"Of course they were connected with the separatists in China. They were not there alone for the cause of Afghanistan... We reassured the prime minister of our full cooperation," he said.
Asked if Afghanistan would cooperate with China's wish to have any captured Chinese citizens repatriated for prosecution, Abdullah said: "We will not exclude any type of cooperation."
"Those who want to use Afghan soil against their own country, their own people, will not be excluded," he added.
Ethnic Uighurs, who make up much of Xinjiang's population, have been captured in Afghanistan, but the United States has declined to hand them over to China.
Analysts said the growing U.S. presence in Afghanistan and Central Asia have made Beijing uneasy, although Abdullah said Zhu did not express this concern in the meeting with Karzai.
General Tommy Franks, who is commanding the U.S.-led Afghan campaign, said in Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday that Washington did not plan to maintain a permanent military presence in Central Asia.
But the U.S. presence in Central Asia has increased with the war on terror and some analysts say Chinese leaders are fearful of encirclement and thus keen to work to rebuild Afghanistan.
"It's quite obvious that the West is going to be playing a large role in it. China can't do anything about that. I suppose all it can do is keep watching and just keep its finger in the pie," a Western diplomat said.
China was one of the first countries to send diplomats to Kabul after the fall of the Taliban and said it expected to reopen its embassy, closed in 1993 as mujahideen groups fought over the city, early next month.
Zhu and Karzai watched as Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan and Abdullah signed symbolic notes for the $1 million and 30 million yuan already pledged.
Karzai is due to meet Chinese President Jiang Zemin on Thursday after visiting the Great Wall. Abdullah said he was optimistic more support would be forthcoming.
Wang Xuexian, the Chinese envoy to the donor meeting in Japan, said Beijing was likely to offer help with demining and other public works projects in Afghanistan, state media reported.
The Western diplomat said China frequently offered aid to developing countries for political clout.
"I think they want to be seen as making some sort of contribution," the diplomat said. "It's something that comes in between -- not too small and not too big."
Thursday January 24, 2:51 AM AFP
Faced with mounting international criticism, the US military has put on hold transfers of prisoners from Afghanistan to the US Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, US military officials said.
The officials insisted the pause was not in response to the outpouring of concern over the prisoners treatment, but gave contradictory reasons for the action.
President George W. Bush was "perfectly satisfied" that the military was upholding US traditions of humane treatment of prisoners while protecting the troops guarding them, said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.
"These are not mere innocents, these are among the worst of the worst," he said.
A spokesman for the US Southern Command in Miami, Florida, which is responsible for the base at Guantanamo, said the transfers of prisoners were being held up by deliberations within the US government over arrangements for an intelligence center at the base.
"We've been told they're going to pause the flow while they make these preparations to make sure everything is all right," said Steven Lucas, a spokesman for the command.
He said it was not known how long transfers from Afghanistan would be held up but "there's no reason to anticipate it's going to be a very long pause."
The center will include facilities for interrogating the prisoners and communications links for gathering and disseminating information.
Lucas said, however, the delay was related not to the intelligence center's physical plant, as other Pentagon officials suggested, but to "inter-agency coordination."
The government agencies involved "have to coordinate their activities, their crews and their staffing for operating a joint inter-agency intelligence center."
"I think it is probably not inappropriate to pause to make sure we're all set up to exploit any information that can be gained from these people in the most expeditious manner," he said.
The last flight carrying prisoners from Kandahar arrived at Guantanamo Bay on Monday, raising to 158 the number of captured al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters detained at the base.
Another 270 are being held by the US military in Afghanistan.
One Pentagon official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, indicated that the transfers were being held up to complete construction of the interrogation facility and because they were running short of cells to put prisoners without doubling them up.
Lucas, however, said cell space was not an immediate concern.
"We will be continuing to bring detainees in as we have the capacity and capability to deal with them," said Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman. "SouthCom is working very hard to improve or increase the capacity to deal with detainees."
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Tuesday responded to criticism of the US handling of the detainees, insisting it was appropriate, humane and in keeping with international conventions.
Some US allies have expressed concern over the US decision to designate the detainees as "unlawful combatants" with no clearly defined legal status rather than as "prisoners of war" with specific rights under the Geneva Convention.
The prisoners, considered extremely dangerous by the Pentagon, have been flown to Guantanamo Bay in shackles, earmuffs and black-out goggles, restraints Rumsfeld said were reasonable.
A delegation from the International Committee of the Red Cross visited the prisoners last week, but their findings are confidential.
The detainees are being kept under heavy guard at an outdoor detention facility in individual cells with a roof, concrete floor and chain-link walls.
They get three meals a day, showers, exercise and medical care, the Pentagon says
Wednesday January 23, 11:28 PM AFP
An Italian prize will next week be presented to the Reporters Sans Frontieres (Reporters without Borders) organisation in recognition of the journalists who died covering the conflict in Afghanistan, organisers announced.
The Premiolino, normally a monthly or yearly prize which has been in existence for 40 years, has been awarded to the organisation for the second half of the year 2001.
"The jury... has decided unanimously, with a special dispensation from its own statutes, to unify all the monthly prizes into a single recognition and give it to Reporters Sans Frontieres, the organisation best placed to represent the journalists of various nations who have fallen in the war in Afghanistan," said the statement.
Robert Menard, secretary general of Reporters Sans Frontieres, will attend the ceremony in Milan on January 31.
The citation lists eight journalists who have died covering the conflict. They were French journalists Pierre Billaud and Johanne Sutton, Australian Harry Burton, Italian Maria Grazia Cutuli, Spaniard Julio Fuentes, Afghan Azizullah Haidari, German Volker Handloik and Swede Ulf Stromberg.
Wednesday January 23, 11:23 PM
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The arrest in Afghanistan of a Singapore man believed to have links to al Qaeda was the catalyst for the city state to round up and detain 13 suspected militants, Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng said in an interview on Wednesday.
Wong also told Channel News Asia television that Singapore authorities had been watching the local leader of the clandestine Islamic group Jemaah Islamiah for more than 10 years.
"We heard later in the end of November that he (the Singaporean) was arrested by the Northern Alliance, and that somehow pushed our hands a bit in mounting the arrests before the (Jemaah Islamiah) group disappeared," Wong said.
Singapore revealed earlier this month it had arrested 15 men in December for plotting to blow up a shuttle bus ferrying U.S. military personnel and to bomb U.S. naval vessels.
News of the arrests came as a shock to a tiny nation regarded as a haven of stability in turbulent Southeast Asia.
Some suspects fled Singapore as authorities closed in but Wong declined to say how many were on the run.
"It's not a movie where you plan nicely and you know who everybody is involved in the group and you move in and you smash the whole lot of them," Wong said.
"As the investigation progresses, you get to know who are the people related to the organisation, what the people involved are doing and from there (we) move step by step."
Two of the 15 men detained in Singapore have since been released. The rest are being held for two years under the Internal Security Act, which allows for detention without trial.
The government said the 13 men belonged to Jemaah Islamiah, which has ties to similar groups in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Singapore also says the group is linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda, blamed by Washington for the September 11 attacks.
Malaysia, which has arrested 47 men for suspected terrorist activities, said for the first time on Wednesday it was holding 22 members of the group.
Wong said Singapore had kept tabs on the man believed to be the local Jemaah Islamiah ringleader since the 1991 Gulf War, but had found nothing incriminating.
Singapore was tipped off after the U.S. attacks that the man arrested in Afghanistan, an associate of the alleged ringleader, had links to al Qaeda, he said.
Wong declined to say where the tip-off came from.
Wednesday January 23, 9:34 PM AFP
The United States rejected charges it was torturing Taliban and al-Qaeda prisoners as Afghanistan's interim government faced the challenge of disarming a war-weary country and ending factional fighting.
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld angrily denied that prisoners transported from Afghanistan to a US naval base in Guantanamo, Cuba, were being ill-treated or subjected to torture.
"The treatment of the detainees in Guantanamo Bay is proper, it's humane, it's appropriate, and it is fully consistent with international conventions," Rumsfeld told a Pentagon news conference.
He defended the classification of the detainees as "unlawful combatants," rather than as prisoners of war with certain rights under the Geneva Convention.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said the fact Washington has linked the prisoners to the September 11 terror attacks that killed more than 3,000 people should make no difference.
But Rumsfeld acknowledged Tuesday intelligence gathering has been given precedence over the swift administration of justice and he gave no indication how long the detainees would be held without charges.
High-profile detainee John Walker Lindh, the so-called American Taliban, was on his way back to the United States Tuesday aboard a US military aircraft to face terrorism charges, US defense officials said.
Held since December aboard the US amphibious warship USS Bataan, the 20-year-old Muslim convert was being flown back to the United States to face charges of conspiring to kill US nationals overseas and supporting al-Qaeda.
Walker had been held and interrogated about his involvement with al-Qaeda since appearing among al-Qaeda fighters after a bloody prison uprising at Mazar-i-Sharif.
Rumsfeld denied Walker was receiving different treatment from other prisoners.
A federal judge in Los Angeles said he had serious doubts he would be able to hear the first challenge to the legality of the US military's detention in Cuba of prisoners from the Afghan conflict.
Federal Judge Howard Matz had been asked by a group of human rights advocates to order more than 100 suspects being held at the base to appear in a US civil court to hear the charges against them.
The advocates asked the Los Angeles judge to consider their claim that Washington's incarceration of the suspects at the US military outpost in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, violates the US Constitution and the Geneva Convention.
At Tuesday's hearing, Matz declined to rule on the petition and instead heard arguments over whether he had jurisdiction in the case brought by a group of clergymen, journalists and lawyers on behalf of 110 detainees.
In Afghanistan, officials played down reported clashes that threaten to jeopardize the nation's return to stability after international donor countries pledged four billion dollars in aid.
The urgency of the reconstruction effort was underlined Monday by reports of weekend skirmishing between factions that were once allies against the Taliban in northern Afghanistan.
An official from the Afghan defense ministry's foreign liaison department said fighting Sunday in Sar-e-Pul province lasted only 20 minutes.
Zabit Salih Mohammad Registani insisted there had been a local dispute between commanders that had been quickly resolved by a more senior officer in Mazar-i-Sharif, but said "some people" had died.
Amid the reports of looting and factional fighting, Afghan interim leader Hamid Karzai warned at the donors conference in Tokyo that the cash promised by some 60 nations and 20 international organizations would have to arrive quickly.
"I also hope the pledges are made true in the coming days so we can take on the process of reconstruction," Karzai told the Japan National Press Club.
More pressure will be heaped on the shaky post-war settlement by the return of thousands, perhaps millions, of refugees who fled Afghanistan over 22 years of warfare.
The UN refugee agency estimates that already this month 35,000 Afghans have returned from camps in Iran and Pakistan to a country where around 700,000 people are already reliant on food aid.
Some four million Afghans are living in the foreign camps, and many others are displaced inside the country.
Karzai's interim government took power last month after US-led forces routed the Taliban militia and Afghan opposition factions struck a power-sharing deal brokered by the United Nations.
Hundreds of US troops are still inside Afghanistan, searching for remnants of the Taliban and the al-Qaeda network of Islamic radicals that Washington blames for the September 11 terror attacks on the United States.
On Tuesday, Russia, a backer of the US war on terrorism, warned Washington against widening the war to Iraq, ahead of a visit to Moscow by Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz.
Washington came under attack on another legal front as a senior UN official accused the Bosnian and US governments of acting illegally when Sarajevo handed over six Arab terror suspects to US authorities last week.
Also, tensions in south Asia were further heightened Tuesday when four unidentified gunmen attacked an American Centre in Calcutta, India, killing four policemen and injuring 20 other people -- none of them Americans.
Indian Home Minister L.K. Advani blamed "armed terrorists" and said the attack had been claimed by a group with alleged links to Pakistan's Inter Service Intelligence agency.
But the United States said it was unsure if the attack was a new terror assault targeted at its interests or the result of a grievance against local police.
Wednesday January 23, 8:57 PM
BEIJING (Reuters) - Interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai arrived in Beijing on Wednesday to meet Chinese leaders eager to see stability return to their war-ravaged neighbour but wary of a large U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.
Karzai made no comment after arriving from Tokyo following two days of meetings with donors who promised more than $4.5 billion to start rebuilding the shattered country, $1.8 billion of which will be available for the crucial first year.
One Western diplomat said Chinese leaders were keen to see Afghanistan return to peace and stability and were likely to ask Karzai about Afghanistan's position on the U.S. presence in his country.
"I should think they'd be interested in seeing the country get back to some sort of stable government quite soon," the diplomat said.
"It's quite obvious that the West is going to be playing a large role in it. China can't do anything about that. I suppose all it can do is keep watching and just keep its finger in the pie," she said.
CHINA SEES TALIBAN LINK
China shares a narrow and remote border with Afghanistan, where it says hundreds of Muslims connected to a small separatist movement in its far Western region of Xinjiang were trained under the former ruling Taliban.
Earlier this week, Beijing said the separatists had direct links to Osama bin Laden, blamed by the United States for the September 11 attacks on Washington and New York.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi said on Tuesday Karzai and Chinese leaders would discuss the future of Afghanistan and regional issues. It was also possible they would talk about the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, he said.
"We have taken note that the U.S. side has expressed on many occasions that it does not hope to have a long-term military presence in Central Asia," he told reporters.
The U.S. presence in Central Asia has increased since the war on terrorism began following the September 11 attacks and some analysts say Chinese leaders are fearful of encirclement.
China was one of the first countries to send diplomats to Kabul after the fall of the Taliban and said it expected to reopen its embassy -- closed in 1993 as mujahideen groups fought over the city -- early next month.
CHINA OFFERS $1 MILLION
In Japan, China offered to $1 million for rebuilding Afghanistan in addition to 30 million yuan ($3.6 million) in humanitarian aid due to arrive soon.
In an interview in the official China Daily on Wednesday, Wang Xuexian, the Chinese envoy to the donor meeting in Japan, said Beijing was likely to offer help with demining and other public works projects in Afghanistan.
"We will help build some large infrastructure projects that will benefit many local people," Wang was quoted as saying.
The Western diplomat said China frequently offered aid to other developing countries, but usually did so for political clout and did not publicise the figures.
"I think they want to be seen as making some sort of contribution," the diplomat said. "It's something that comes in between -- not too small and not too big."
Karzai was scheduled to meet Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji on Wednesday and Afghan charge d'affaires Abdul Basir Hotak said they would sign an agreement on an aid package. He gave no details.
The Foreign Ministry said Karzai would meet President Jiang Zemin on Thursday after a morning visit to the Great Wall before flying on to Tajikistan.
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