British Marines end east Afghan mission By Sanjeev Miglani
Thursday May 23, 1:48 AM
BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan (Reuters) - A 1,000-strong force, led largely by British Royal Marines, ended a hunt for al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in eastern Afghanistan without making contact with the militants, military officials said on Wednesday.
Al Qaeda and Taliban militants have not been seen in large numbers since the last large ground battle of the Afghan war in March, when U.S. and Afghan forces took on several hundred of them in the Shahi-i-Kot valley.
Royal Marines spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Ben Curry said two rockets landed on Tuesday night a kilometre (just over half a mile) from one of the forward operating base, but there were no casualties. There were some 50 soldiers at the base at the time of the attack.
"We did not discover the firing point, the forward operating base was being withdrawn anyway as part of the closure of Operation Condor," he said, referring to the mission that was launched in an area north of the troubled city of Khost last Friday after an Australian patrol came under fire. The mission ended on Wednesday.
Earlier, U.S. planes attacked suspected al Qaeda and Taliban fighters near Afghanistan's border with Pakistan but there was no word on casualties, a U.S. army spokesman said on Wednesday.
Major Bryan Hilferty told reporters that U.S air force A-10 attack planes dropped bombs and fired rockets on Tuesday at more than 10 suspected militants spotted by coalition forces south of Khost.
"We have neutralised the area, but I can't say we have killed people, no bodies were found," he said at the allied headquarters in Bagram, 50 km (30 miles) north of the capital Kabul.
"It appears they were aiming mortars at a temporary operating base we had set up," Hilferty said, adding that there were plenty of indicators to suggest hostile intent.
Khost is a hub of U.S. special forces operations and other coalition soldiers searching for pockets of al Qaeda and Taliban militants in rugged mountains near the Pakistani border.
Military officials say they have dispersed and many may have slipped over the porous border.
"There was no contact with al Qaeda and Taliban, but there were a number of small finds of arms," Curry said.
British officials had said at the start of Operation Condor that a substantial number of enemy fighters were in the area.
"We did not contact the enemy, so I can only conjecture that the al Qaeda, Taliban that were there managed to escape across the porous border," Curry said.
The 1,700-strong force of Marines ended a two-week hunt of the mountains in southeastern Afghanistan earlier this month without firing a shot in anger. The soldiers however destroyed a large quantity of weapons in that mission.
LONG AND DIFFICULT WAR
Coalition officers stressed the lack of contact with al Qaeda or Taliban fighters was not a sign of failure.
"Every time we go out somewhere in Afghanistan and we do not find al Qaeda that is a success, that's an indication of our success," Hilferty said.
"This is a long and difficult war, it will not end in the year 2002 most likely," he said.
Hilferty said there was no way a large number of fighters would have escaped across the border into Pakistan.
"We do not believe large numbers of people escaped, we did not leave avenues of escape open," he said.
"Perhaps as we developed our intelligence, we did not believe there were a substantial number of enemy there," he added.
With no known large concentrations of al Qaeda or Taliban fighters to attack, the U.S. campaign has evolved into a sometimes frustrating search for a scattered, hit-and-run enemy that travels more easily and furtively than its pursuer.
On Sunday, a U.S. Special Forces officer was killed when his unit came under fire from suspected al Qaeda fighters. U.S. forces later raided the ambush site but did not arrest anyone or fire shots.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) _ A warlord released 512 inmates from an overcrowded prison in northern Afghanistan on Thursday, men who were captured months earlier during fighting with the deposed Taliban militia.
Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, who controls the prison in the northern Afghan town of Shibergan, released the prisoners and put them on buses to Kabul, said Faiz Zaki, Dostum's spokesman.
All of those released were Afghans, he said, mostly ethnic Pashtuns from the south.
Also Thursday, another northern Afghan commander released eight ethnic Uzbeks _ one Afghan and seven citizens of Uzbekistan _ who had been held for six months in a jail in Mazar-e-Sharif after being captured while by opposition forces battling the Taliban.
Atta Mohammed, a warlord who is now operational commander of northern Afghanistan under the interim administration, said he released the eight on the orders of Defense Minister Mohammed Fahim.
They were fighters loyal to Juma Namangani, a Taliban ally and ethnic Uzbek leader, killed during the U.S.-led coalition's assault on Afghanistan.
The eight were handed over to Uzbek officials at the Hairaton border crossing, Mohammed said.
Zaki, meanwhile, said the releases left 600 Afghans and 600 Pakistanis still incarcerated in the prison, infamous for its poor conditions and lack of food.
"Gen. Dostum wants to release all the prisoners. But we want to make sure the central government is investigating their backgrounds. They might be dangerous," said Zaki, reached by telephone from Kabul.
Dostum has released prisoners from Shibergan prison en masse at least twice before.
He freed more than 200 earlier this month and 800 more earlier this week. More than 200 were returned to their native Pakistan while another 600 went home to southern Afghanistan.
The prisoners freed Thursday were put on buses and guarded by Dostum's security force, Zaki said. They were traveling to the Salang Pass, which connects the north to the rest of the country, and then were scheduled to be handed over to Interior Ministry security forces, he said.
He said they would arrive in Kabul sometime Friday and, from there, would be permitted to return home. Dostum began releasing prisoners following an appeal by interim leader Hamid Karzai.
Freed prisoners have spoken of beatings, starvation rations and cells so crowded that inmates couldn't all lie down to sleep at the same time. The Red Cross had started an emergency feeding program at the prison and, Zaki said, had given $28 to each of the freed inmates before boarding the bus.
The U.S. military said earlier this week that it was not concerned about the prisoner releases because it had screened inmates at the prison and taken into custody those it was interested in questioning further.
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - At least six people were killed in fighting between forces loyal to Afghanistan's defence minister and his deputy, an Afghan news agency said on Thursday.
Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) said an unspecified number of people were wounded in the fighting that erupted on Wednesday night at Zal, 60 km west of the northern Afghan town of Kunduz.
It said fighting was still raging between forces loyal to the Defence Minister, General Mohammad Fahim, and his deputy, General Abdul Rashid Dostum.
"Differences between Fahim and Dostum still exist," the AIP quoted a source as saying, adding that forces loyal to both men have clashed frequently in the past.
AIP said Dostum's forces, backed by heavy artillery, attacked Zal Fort, controlled by Fahim's Jamiat-e-Islami group, which repulsed the attack.
AIP quoted a Jamiat source as saying 250 of its fighters had been sent to Zal on Thursday morning to reinforce the town's defences and evict any Dostum troops.
Dostum, who ruled northern Afghanistan city of Mazar-i-Sharif as his personal fiefdom, had to flee the country in 1997 when one of his top commanders switched sides and brought the now vanquished Taliban movement into the city.
He returned to Mazar-i-Sharif after the fall of the Taliban government late last year, but did not get the post of defence minister which he had cherished.
That went instead to Fahim, named commander of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance after the assassination of former commander Ahmed Shah Masood in September.
Thursday May 23, 2:57 PM
KABUL (Reuters) -- Afghan warlords, whose violent reputations left them banned from a key grand council to decide the next government, are using dirty tricks and intimidation to ensure their men take part, according to some complaints.
It is unclear what proportion of the 1,501 seats in the Loya Jirga traditional council, due to meet from June 10, are subject to challenges as the selection process moves into its second and final round.
But Afghans who feel they have been cheated of a free and fair vote by intimidation say they have lost faith in the council that is supposed to pick a government to unite the fractious country and usher in peace and stability.
"I'm a defenceless woman and they showed me their guns," a complainant who asked not to be identified told Reuters.
Fear did not vanish along with the fundamentalist Taliban, kicked from power last year after a prolonged U.S. air campaign and advances by opposition fighters.
"Weapons still dominate here," said the woman who alleged that armed men offered her a simple choice -- accept 14,000 Pakistani rupees ($215) to pull out of the election in a Kabul district or take a bullet in her heart.
Another complainant who had trudged from central Parwan province to the Loya Jirga Commission offices in Kabul told a similar story.
The man, who also refused to be identified because he feared for his life, said two Loya Jirga delegates chosen to represent his community were known associates of local militia commanders and had no popular support because of the death and destruction they had wrecked on Afghanistan.
"Many of my people have come here (to Kabul) but no one listens to them," he said as he prepared to give the complaints procedure another go.
GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL UNITY?
The emergency Loya Jirga, agreed to by opposition parties at a U.N.-sponsored conference in Bonn held in December as the Taliban crumbled in their last southern strongholds, will pick a government for the next two years, when general elections will be held.
It was designed to balance the voices of Afghanistan's tribes and ethnic groups, with proportionate representation for the majority Pashtuns of the south, who formed the core of Taliban support, and for the ethnic Tajik and Uzbek minorities that dominate the Northern Alliance.
Seats are reserved for women, denied all rights under the Taliban, and for intellectuals, traders, religious leaders, Afghanistan's four million refugees and Kuchi nomads who criss-cross the mountainous country with their camel trains.
Militia leaders responsible for killing civilians during 23 years of war were deliberately excluded.
In the two-stage selection process, districts first pick representatives through traditional methods of debate. Then those representatives elect the actual Loya Jirga delegates through secret ballots.
The United Nations, which is overseeing the elections, says they have by and large been trouble-free.
There are incidents of influence peddling and intimidation but no more than expected, it says.
Certainly, in Kabul, while the election in District 11 on Tuesday was under a cloud because of the allegations of vote-buying and threats, in District 10 the following day everyone seemed happy.
District 11 picked four men as its representatives, including Afizullah Mansur, the head of Kabul Television and Radio and linked to Northern Alliance warlord Ahmad Wali Masood, brother of the assassinated and legendary Mujahideen leader Ahmad Shah Masood.
In District 10, two women and two men were picked.
"I am very, very happy because women have been freed from the slavery of the Taliban," Loya Jirga delegate Zakira Kamand Anwar told Reuters.
Another winner was a leader from the ethnic minority Hazara community, long the gravediggers and human mules of Kabul.
"Now we have democracy," said Mohammad Ibrahim Mohsini after his supporters showered him with bank notes and hung enamelled garlands around his neck to celebrate his election.
As for the disputed District 11, winner Afizullah Mansur dismissed the complaints as sour grapes.
"The protests are coming from bad losers," Mansur told Reuters.
Thursday May 23, 2:12 PM AFP
US Vice President Richard Cheney said the US government remains in the dark about the fate of Islamic militant Osama bin Laden who is blamed for the September 11 attacks on the United States.
There is "a lot of speculation about where he is if he's dead, buried in one of those tunnels of caves in Afghanistan," Cheney told CNN's "Larry King Live" program.
"We haven't heard anything from him for a considerable period of time now," he added.
A video featuring the al-Qaeda leader was broadcast in London last Sunday.
It showed bin Laden, clad in a camouflage vest and Afghan-style hat, sitting outside under a tree on what appeared to be a pleasant spring evening.
There was no indication when the video was made.
Cheney said he had seen the latest tape but the previous ones were probably recorded before last December, when US and Afghan troops launched an offensive on the Tora Bora cave complex in eastern Afghanistan where he was believed to be hiding.
By TED ANTHONY, Associated Press Writer
KABUL, Afghanistan - More than three months after culprits attacked and killed an Afghan Cabinet minister in a daylight attack, no arrests have been made and analysts worry that it calls into question the interim administration's ability to rid this war-shattered country of widespread lawlessness.
The United Nations says the results of any investigation should be made public to "ease anxieties."
Abdul Rahman was bursting with optimism in January as he sat in his office, snacked on pistachios and talked of tomorrow. "For the first time in many years," Afghanistan's new civil aviation minister said, "I see a good future for my country."
Four weeks later he was dead, killed under mysterious circumstances aboard a plane at Kabul Airport, the very place he was trying to repair so the world would return to Afghanistan. Some said it was pilgrims angry at delays in their trip to Mecca; others spoke of a plot. Interim Leader Hamid Karzai accused senior officials in his government, vowed they would be apprehended and said lawlessness had ended in Afghanistan. Suspects were arrested, then released.
Now, three months later, Rahman's brother sits in the house they shared and waits for answers.
"We were told people would be arrested. They need to find out who was behind this," says Nasar Ahmad, practically whispering as he stares up at a portrait of his older brother. The resemblance is striking.
"It's been three months and nothing," he says. "Why?"
A brother's loss is personal, but the implications of Rahman's death ripple far beyond his family, posing unsettling political and security questions that could cloud Afghanistan's fresh start.
As international forces work to make Kabul safer and prop up an inexperienced police force, the unsolved death of a cabinet minister casts a serious shadow — especially given the fact that suspicion lies within the government itself.
"That tragedy put a negative light on our administration. It is not easy to forget," says Zalmay Rasul, a friend of Rahman's who replaced him as civil aviation minister.
"A member of the cabinet has been assassinated. In daylight. In the middle of the airport. It's a very basic question — what happened?" Rasul says. "Somebody has done these things, and everybody wants to know who."
But trying to get the government to discuss the investigation is like looking for a road in Kabul without a pothole.
Ashraf Ghani, a top adviser to interim government leader Karzai, saying he doesn't handle security, says the Interior Ministry is the only agency that can discuss it. There, a one-hour wait produces no one.
Finally, National Police Chief Din Muhammad Jurat, who oversees the investigation, emerges from an office undergoing redecoration and refuses to discuss the matter. "I have no information," he snaps. "Maybe in the future."
Jurat was one of the men pegged as a suspect, but later cleared although no details of the investigation has been made public. He is now leading the investigation.
In February when Afghan luminaries turned out for Rahman's funeral, former President Burhanuddin Rabbani called Rahman an "ambassador of peace." The interim administration's highest leaders — Karzai and Defense Minister Mohammed Fahim among them — paid respects.
Rahman's death Feb. 14 was initially reported as a mob attack on his plane by pilgrims angered that they had been unable to travel to Mecca. Witnesses and officials had said pilgrims beat the minister to death and tossed his body onto the tarmac.
But Karzai quickly said Rahman was "killed by people who planned it."
"We will put them behind bars," he said, suggesting the killing was tied to a feud dating back to struggles against the Taliban militia. He named five suspects, all from a faction of the anti-Taliban northern alliance with which Rahman had broken.
Rahman had left the northern alliance, dominated by slain leader Ahmed Shah Massood's Jamiat-e-Islami faction, during Taliban rule and linked up with a group loyal to former King Mohammad Zaher Shah.
Today, some of those Karzai fingered are back in government positions, including Jurat.
"I think the government cannot arrest the suspects because it was an inside job," says Said Raqib, 31, a medical student. "These aren't ordinary people who did it."
Representatives of the international presence in Kabul, civilian and military, say they are concerned but have no authority.
The International Security Assistance Forces says jurisdiction lies with the government. Maj. Gen. John McColl, ISAF's commander, said Thursday that the international force has trained Afghans to guard cabinet ministers and "very likely" would train more as the loya jirga, the country's grand council meeting to choose a new government, approaches.
U.N. spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva says results of any investigation, when concluded, should be made public to "ease anxieties."
For Ahmad, the anxiety continues. While Rahman's two wives and four children live outside the country, he remains here, determined to find answers. He says he has received little help from Rahman's friends in the government.
"I cannot knock on every door. I cannot go to Karzai or Fahim and ask them what happened. I do not have that power," he says. "His friends can do it, and they should do it. ... I think they are afraid."
He falls silent for a moment, and then tears well up. He gazes at the portrait on the wall.
"The government should find out: Was it a political matter? Were these personal enemies. I just don't know," Ahmad says. "He was my brother, but he was my friend, too. And I miss him. And I would just like to know who killed him."
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) _ Warning of possible violence as another shift in Afghanistan's government nears, the head of the international mission guarding the capital said Thursday that he has refocused the force to concentrate more on fighting terrorism.
British Maj. Gen. John McColl, chief of the International Security Assistance Forces, said the force wants a safe environment for the meeting June 10-15 of a traditional grand council that will choose a transitional administration to replace a U.N.-installed one. The council is called a loya jirga.
"It's reasonable to assume that as we move toward the loya jirga, there will be those who move to disrupt the process, interfere with the process. And therefore I think we have to be ready for an increase in the level of terrorism," McColl told a news conference.
The peacekeeping force has been patrolling Kabul since January, working with the interim government and a new police force to prevent the violence and lawlessness that threatened to engulf the city after a U.S.-led coalition forced the Taliban from power.
At least three attacks on the peacekeepers _ one in February and two last month _ suggest that terrorists are still working against the force, McColl said.
"That's three attacks too many," he said. "We need to bear down on that."
Kabul residents have welcomed the peacekeeping force, saying it gives them security they have not known in years by preventing the factional warfare that destroyed large parts of the capital during the 1990s and paved the way for the Taliban's rise to power.
"Now there is peace here. The war is over, and things here have improved because of these international soldiers," Norullah, a shopkeeper with only one name, said Thursday at his store in western Kabul, which is largely rubble. "It is very good that they stay. Without them, fighting could have started again between the factions."
As of Thursday, the peacekeeping force included 4,482 troops from nearly two dozen nations. It has a six-month mandate that expires June 20.
The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday informally agreed to the extend the mandate for another six months but refused Afghan leaders' requests to expand the force beyond Kabul.
McColl said deploying peacekeepers beyond the capital would "reduce the urgency" of the country to chart its own future and regenerate its military and police.
"There's absolutely no doubt that they have to take responsibility and ownership of their own problems. And they understand those problems far better than we do," he said.
The peacekeeping force does not answer directly to the United Nations. It was established in a U.N.-brokered agreement signed by four Afghan factions in Bonn, Germany, on Dec. 5, which called for a multinational security force and asked the Security Council to authorize it.
Next month, Britain turns over control of the force to Turkey. The Turkish military says it will send an advance party Friday. Turkey already has some 270 peacekeepers on the force and is expected to deploy another 1,000.
In other developments Thursday:
_ A blast caused by a land mine or stray explosive rocked a Canadian armored vehicle near Kandahar during a routine reconnaissance mission, but the six soldiers inside were not injured, said Canadian Maj. Mike Audette. He also said Canadian troops had returned from an unspecified "security operation" in the Khost region after "several weeks."
_ A convoy carrying more than 4,000 Afghan refugees left Karachi, Pakistan for Afghanistan as part of a U.N.-sponsored effort to repatriate Afghan citizens willing to return to their war-ravaged country.
_ Australia said Thursday that Afghan families seeking asylum in that country will get up to $5,600 if they agree to return home. About 1,000 Afghans held in detention centers on mainland Australia and the neighboring Pacific island state of Nauru would be eligible.
MEDFORD, Mass. (AP) _ Despite large-scale international aid, a worsening drought is wreaking economic and social havoc on Afghanistan and forcing desperate villagers to buy food at almost any cost, according to a report by a famine expert.
The study provides the most detailed snapshot to date of conditions in the war-torn nation. It concluded that the number of Afghan households with a secure source of food and water has plummeted rapidly.
The report also shows widespread indebtedness, often a source of shame in Islamic cultures. It says the practice of selling daughters as young as 7 for marriage to help pay for food has become common across the country.
"It was very routine, up to the point where we had families who didn't have a young girl to put into marriage were lamenting it," said Tufts University famine expert Sue Lautze, who based the report on interviews in 1,100 households throughout Afghanistan.
The report was commissioned by the U.S. Agency for International Development to guide relief efforts. USAID director Andrew Natsios said in January that food aid had averted widespread famine in the country of 27 million people, but Lautze's report painted a grim picture of worsening hardship.
"We went into this thinking maybe this country was going into a reconstruction phase, when in fact it's still in acute disaster phase," Lautze said in an interview this week.
The report has not yet been released, but a preliminary draft outlines its conclusions and recommendations.
"This is the most comprehensive look we've had at the village level food security situation," said Joel Charny, vice president for policy at Refugees International, a Washington group involved in Afghanistan famine issues. "I hope it will serve as a wake-up call."
Letitia Butler, deputy director of USAID's task force for Central Asia, said the report pointed out the need to focus on injecting cash into the economy to combat the decline in purchasing power, and on agricultural assistance that could help during a drought.
Earlier this month, the World Food Program said it needs more than $585 million to feed 9 million people in Afghanistan. The agency said it had received less than 60 percent of that.
The United States has spent $230 million on assistance to Afghanistan, $190 million through USAID, according to the agency's Web site.
Lautze's report urges USAID, one of numerous government and private organizations working in Afghanistan, to prepare for at least another year of emergency assistance, concentrating on building water systems, clearing mines and replenishing livestock herds that have been "decimated" by the drought.
"They were coping with the war, they were coping with the Taliban," Lautze said of Afghan villagers. "But this drought has really been hard."
Lautze's teams found that the level of diet security, a measure of vulnerability to famine, has fallen from 59 percent in 1999-2000 to 9 percent now. Water security fell from 43 percent to 15 percent.
The report does not attempt to calculate how many people have died of hunger. But it argues that the drought, entering its fourth year, is wreaking havoc on village economic and social life.
Many of the people surveyed are being forced into heavy debts and selling precious assets like livestock _ and even their daughters.
Lautze, a former USAID worker, has briefed the State Department, Defense Department, National Security Council and United Nations on her findings.
Despite the grim picture of life in Afghanistan, Lautze said the World Food Program has delivered 380,000 tons of food there, and about 60 percent of households reported they had received food assistance in the last year, more than triple the previous year.
"The fact that they got food aid into 60 percent of the households in the middle of a war _ these are not small accomplishments," Lautze said.
By EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press Writer
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The U.N. Security Council informally agreed to keep a multinational force in Kabul for another six months but rejected repeated requests from Afghanistan (news - web sites)'s leaders to expand its operations throughout the country.
The council scheduled a vote Thursday on a U.S.-sponsored resolution that would extend the authorization for the 4,650-strong International Security Assistance Force after its initial six-month mandate ends on June 20.
While declaring that "the situation in Afghanistan still constitutes a threat to international peace and security," the draft resolution presented Wednesday says "the responsibility for providing security and law and order throughout the country resides with the Afghans themselves."
The U.N.-brokered agreement signed by four Afghan factions in Bonn, Germany, on Dec. 5, established an interim government, called for a multinational security force, and asked the Security Council to authorize it to give it international legitimacy — although it does not operate under a U.N. umbrella.
The council authorized the force on Dec. 20 to provide security for six months — but limited the contingent's operation to the Afghan capital at the request of the interim government led by Hamid Karzai.
In February, however, Karzai appealed to the council to expand the force and deploy it throughout the country, saying it would signal a global commitment to a country brutalized by 23 years of war and neglect. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (news - web sites) backed the request.
But there were no offers of troops for an expanded force from the international community — or the 15 council nations.
Instead, the international community is focusing on rebuilding and reforming Afghanistan's army, police force and judicial system.
Afghanistan wants about $420 million to create a national army and air force of 68,000, a border guard service, and a 74,000-strong police force to try to reign in competing warlords and ethnic factions.
An international aid conference last Friday secured enough pledges to launch this effort.
The United States is in charge of training the army and has promised about $70 million under a bill still making its way through the U.S. Congress. France has volunteered to help by training two battalions.
Germany is taking the lead role in reforming and rebuilding the police, while Italy is leading efforts to reconstruct the legal and judicial system. Japan has volunteered to help in the program to demobilize fighters and provide funds.
The international force is currently training Afghan troops to guard the loya jirga, the grand council of 1,501 men and women that will meet next month to choose a new transitional government for Afghanistan. The multinational force will guard the outside perimeter.
The draft U.S. resolution welcomes Turkey's offer to take over leadership of the international force from Britain next month. The force currently has troops from 18 nations, the largest contingents from Britain and Germany.
Thu May 23, 5:28 AM ET
By ASHOK SHARMA, Associated Press Writer
NEW DELHI, India - Some of the world's poorer countries Thursday promised to assist in rebuilding Afghanistan. Bangladesh offered expertise in small-scale financing. India said it would share its agricultural skills. Malaysia offered its knowledge in information technology. Mozambique vowed to help rid the war-ravaged country of mines.
The pledges were made at an Afghanistan-aid-donors' conference, jointly organized by the United Nations Development Program and India, in New Delhi.
During the two-day meeting, representatives from 47 developing and developed countries, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank discussed ways for skilled personnel and technology from developing countries to be best used in helping rebuild Afghanistan.
Their main aim is to build transportation networks, energy grids, telecommunications and banking systems.
UNDP administrator Mark Malloch Brown said developing countries have a big role to play in Afghanistan's reconstruction.
Instead of providing financial assistance, some cash-strapped governments pledged to help by other means.
Bangladesh offered expertise in small-scale financing as it has considerable experience in providing tiny loans to individuals to set up small businesses. Malaysia has years of know-how in developing technology and offered to share this knowledge. Mozambique has had to clear hundreds of thousands of mines as it rebuilds after years of civil war and promised to share this experience.
Of the dlrs 4.5 billion committed at an international donors conference in Tokyo in January, more than dlrs 1 billion came from developing countries, Brown said.
India's External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh said his country had already committed dlrs 100 million for Afghanistan's reconstruction and rehabilitation. India is in the process of supplying 50 buses, three commercial aircraft and 300 vehicles for the Afghan army.
Afghanistan's interim finance minister Hedayat Amin-Arsala said the private sector would be the main engine of growth in Afghanistan.
"We foresee Afghanistan emerging as a bridge between Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent and for East-West cooperation," he said.
Bangladesh, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Indonesia, India, Oman, Mozambique, Malaysia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakstan, the United States, Denmark, Italy and Greece are some of the countries represented at the New Delhi conference.
Cambodia to send demining experts to Afghanistan
(Kyodo) - PHNOM PENH — Cambodia will send demining experts to Afghanistan next month to offer that country advice and share experiences, a senior government official said Wednesday.
Sam Sotha, adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen and secretary general of Cambodian Mine Action and Victims Assistance Authority, told Kyodo News he would lead a three-member team to Afghanistan in June.
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Disclaimer: This news site is mostly a compilation of publicly accessible articles on the Web in the form of a link or saved news item. The news articles and commentaries/editorials are protected under international copyright laws. All credit goes to the original respective source(s).