by Shoib Najafizada
MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan (AFP) - A suicide blast tore through a bazaar in a normally calm town in northern Afghanistan Saturday, killing three German soldiers and around six Afghan civilians, officials said.
Military forces reported, meanwhile, that they had killed scores of Taliban fighters in separate operations overnight, with the bodies of nearly 70 left on one battlefield.
The German soldiers were hit while shopping in a market in the town of Kunduz, the provincial governor told AFP.
"Three of our German friends were killed and two were wounded. One Afghan interpreter was also wounded," Kunduz governor Mohammad Omar said.
Six Afghans were killed and a dozen hurt, six of them critically, he added.
NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) confirmed three of its soldiers were killed and two wounded in the attack.
It did not give the nationalities of the soldiers but the German defence ministry said its forces were involved.
ISAF said five Afghan civilians were killed and eight wounded.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed said his organisation was responsible for the blast. The movement vowed last month to step up attacks in the north, which has seen relatively little of the violence gripping the south and east.
Nine Afghan policemen were killed in a suicide blast in Kunduz mid-April.
Saturday's was the most deadly strike against the German deployment to Afghanistan since 2003, when four were killed in a suicide car bombing in Kabul.
Germany has around 3,000 troops here, operating largely in the north of the country. Twenty-one German soldiers have lost their lives in Afghanistan since 2002, including the ones killed on Saturday.
Around 60 foreign soldiers involved in the international mission to Afghanistan have died this year, most of them in attacks or combat.
In another attack on Saturday, a district police chief and one of his bodyguards were killed in a bomb blast in the eastern province of Nangarhar, a district chief said.
An Afghan general reported, meanwhile, that soldiers from the Afghan army and a coalition led by the United States had killed 67 Taliban in an ambush late Friday in the eastern province of Paktia, near the border with Pakistan.
"Their bodies were lying on the ground," General Sami-Ul Haq Badar told AFP.
The coalition announced separately that an estimated "several dozen enemy fighters" were killed in battles around midnight Friday about 60 kilometres (40 miles) from Kabul, in Kapisa province.
The death tolls issued by the military are impossible to verify independently.
The Taliban, a movement rooted in an ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam, was removed from government nearly six years ago by the coalition.
Thousands of foreign troops arrived soon afterwards to help stabilise the fragile country but they have been unable to tame the insurgents, who are supported by the Al-Qaeda movement.
In the biggest success against the Taliban, the group's famously brutal top military commander Mullah Dadullah was killed a week ago in southern Afghanistan.
The group has threatened a wave of suicide bombings, roadside blasts and other attacks to avenge his killing.
They said a suicide car bomb aimed at the governor of the southern province of Kandahar on Thursday was part of this campaign. The governor was not in the targeted motorcade but the Information and Culture Minister Abdul Karim Khoram was wounded.
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Nearly 70 rebels killed in attack: Afghan commander
Sat May 19, 3:09 AM ET
KHOST, Afghanistan (AFP) - Nearly 70 Taliban militants were killed in an ambush by US-led forces and Afghan soldiers in eastern Afghanistan, a military commander said Saturday.
The rebels were killed late Friday in Paktia province near the border with Pakistan, Afghan army general Sami-Ul Haq Badar said.
"We set an ambush, attacked them and killed 67 Taliban. Their bodies were lying on the ground," he said.
The general said the soldiers had been tipped off that there were Taliban in the area. No Afghan or foreign soldiers were hurt in the gunfight, which lasted several hours, he said.
Paktia is one of the most violent regions in Afghanistan and one where the Taliban are at their most active, launching regular attacks on Afghan and foreign troops.
The attack took place in Jaji district, where Pakistan and Afghan forces traded fire over two days last week, killing 13 Afghans.
A NATO soldier was shot dead -- reportedly by a man in Pakistani military uniform -- just across the border after talks to defuse the tensions. A Pakistani soldier was also killed.
The Taliban, ousted from power more than five years ago, are still active in the south and east of the country.
The rebels have threatened a wave of violence, including suicide bombings and roadside explosions, following the killing of their top military commander Mullah Dadullah a week ago.
Dadullah was the most senior Taliban member to be killed since the group's toppling in late 2001 by a US-led coalition that invaded Afghanistan following the September 11 attacks.
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Taliban claims Kandahar suicide bombing:
Web Fri May 18, 1:03 PM ET
DUBAI (Reuters) - A Taliban fighter carried out the suicide bombing in the Afghan city of Kandahar in which a cabinet minister was wounded on Thursday, the Islamist group said on Friday.
"One of the heroes of the Islamic emirate, Asem Kandahari, carried out ... a martyrdom operation against the motorcade of senior officials," the group said in a statement posted on the Internet.
"It was said that Assadullah Khalid, the governor of the province and the information minister ... were in the motorcade," the group said.
Information Minister Karim Khurram suffered facial injuries when the bomber rammed a car full of explosives into a vehicle carrying the minister and Khalid.
Three civilians were killed in the attack in Kandahar, a bastion for Taliban guerrillas.
The authenticity of the statement could not be verified but it was posted on a Web site used by militant groups including al Qaeda, Taliban's key ally.
The attack was part of a fresh wave of violence by suspected Taliban militants following the traditional winter lull.
The attack came just days after the death of the Taliban's top operational commander, Mullah Dadullah, who was killed in a U.S.-led coalition raid in southern Afghanistan at the weekend.
More than 4,000 people, a quarter of them civilians, were killed in fighting in 2006, the most violent year since the Taliban were ousted in 2001.
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Afghan is favourite for World Bank job
The Times Online (UK) May 19, 2007 Tom Bawden in New York
Ashraf Ghani has emerged as the bookmakers’ favourite to replace Paul Wolfowitz as World Bank President, a move that would make him the first non-American to run the global lender in its 60-year history.
Ladbrokes was offering odds yesterday of 4-5 on Mr Ghani, the man credited with overhauling the economy of Afghanistan by carrying out extensive reforms, including issuing a new currency and balancing the budget after the overthrow of the Taleban.
However, Americans Robert Zoellick, a former Deputy Secretary of State, and Robert Kimmitt, Deputy Treasury Secretary, are seen by many as more likely appointments for the job than Mr Ghani or Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s former Finance Minister.
The World Bank Group Staff Association, which represents the bank’s 10,000 employees on matters such as compensation and benefits, yesterday said that the bank should seriously consider non-American candidates for the presidency.
Alison Cave, the association’s chairman, said: “The time has come for us to look for the best candidate, no matter where they are. We are a global institution and it is not reasonable only to consider one nationality.” She added: “Candidates not just in Europe, but across the world, of either gender, should be considered. It doesn’t make sense for it to be otherwise.” Ms Cave declined to comment on Mr Ghani.
Tensions continued to mount at the World Bank yesterday after its staff accused their board of further damaging the institution’s reputation by allowing Mr Wolfowitz to save face by showering him with praise as he resigned.
Mr Wolfowitz quit on Thursday night after his negotiation of a pay rise for his girlfriend proved to be the last straw in a controversial presidency and lost him the support of every major world leader apart from President Bush.
However, the World Bank’s board accompanied his resignation with a statement that cited a long list of achievements in his two-year tenure and thanked him “for his leadership and for championing the Bank’s work across so many areas”.
In his own statement, Mr Wolfowitz said that he was pleased the board had “accepted my assurance that I acted ethically and in good faith in what I believed were the best interests of the institution”.
The bank’s staff association reacted furiously to the board’s statement. “While Mr Wolfowitz has finally done the necessary thing by resigning, he has damaged the institution and continues to damage it every day that he remains as its president,” the association said.
“He has demeaned the bank, insulted the staff, diminished its clients and dragged this institution through the mud.”
The association went on to lambast its board for caving into a deal to help Mr Wolfowitz by making a “statement of gratitude” to help to save his credibility in return for his resignation.
“They have attempted to save his face and in so doing have destroyed that of the institution they are entrusted to protect,” the association said. “The World Bank needs to rebuild its credibility immediately, regain its focus and devote its full attention to its clients. This cannot be done while Mr Wolfowitz remains in his position as president.”
World leaders agree on the need to name a replacement for Mr Wolfowitz, who steps down on June 30, as soon as possible.
The US has always picked the World Bank President and Henry Paulson, America’s Treasury Secretary, said yesterday that he would consult with foreign governments and pick a handful of candidates for Mr Bush to choose from as quickly as possible. Mr Paulson himself, and Bill Frist, a Republican senator from Tennessee, are among the other candidates tipped as potential Presidents.
Peer Steinbrück, the German Finance Minister, said: “It will now be important not to focus on the past but to rebuild the reputation of the World Bank and its ability to function as quickly as possible.”
Mr Wolfowitz’s position became untenable after an ethics panel found him guilty on Monday of breaking institution rules over the $50,000 a year, tax-free pay rise he negotiated for Shaha Riza, his British girlfriend.
Competitors in race for top spot
Ashraf Ghani (odds 4-5) Would be break with tradition as first Muslim and first non-American to hold post. World Bank old-timer was Afghan Finance Minister after the overthrow of the Taleban, carrying out extensive reforms. Like Mr Wolfowitz, not known for suffering fools gladly
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (5-2) Former Nigerian Finance Minister and Foreign Minister who would be the first woman (and nonAmerican) elected. Harvard and MIT-educated, former vice-president of World Bank and a fellow at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think-tank
Robert Zoellick (7-2) Former US Trade Representative and Deputy Secretary of State, he has wide experience of international economic diplomacy. Logical choice to smooth troubled waters
Robert Kimmitt (5-1) Deputy US Treasury Secretary seen as safe pair of hands. Decorated Vietnam veteran and lawyer. Ambassador to Germany under first President Bush
Stanley Fischer (14-1) World Bank’s former chief economist and a previous deputy head of the International Monetary Fund. Became governor of the Bank of Israel in 2005 and gave up his US citizenship; persistent rumours of interest in top job at World Bank have provoked opposition in Israel
John Bolton (16-1) President Bush could appoint him as US ambassador to the UN only on a temporary basis in the face of a hostile Congress. Forthright approach would throw oil on to the fire at the World Bank and would indicate the depths of the White House’s intransigence. Unlikely choice
Tony Blair (25-1) Formerly influential UK-based political activist. Keen to find way to pay large mortgage on London townhouse. Lacks Treasury experience and is rumoured not to want the job. Outside bet at best
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World Bank president - runners and riders
Guardian Unlimited 05/18/2007 By Graeme Wearden
Tony Blair may have emerged as a surprise choice to replace Paul Wolfowitz as president of the World Bank, but the former finance ministers of Afghanistan and Nigeria are both seen as more credible candidates.
Ashraf Ghani, chairman of Kabul University, is a likely option if president George Bush decides to break with tradition and appoint a non-American. A former World Bank economist, Ghani left in 2001 to help rebuild the Afghan economy after the war of 2001 began.
It was reported last month that he headed the White House's list of candidates to replace Wolfowitz. Bookmakers Ladbrokes today installed him as the 4/5 favourite.
Another non-US candidate - and the only woman currently tipped as a Wolfowitz successor - is Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Another former World Bank staffer, she has served as both Nigeria's finance minister and foreign minister.
Okonjo-Iweala told Reuters today that she had not been approached about the job.
"It is an institution that is very worthy and I really believe in the institution. It needs a lot of healing," she said.
But a large obstacle stands between both candidates and the prestigious post ? the US government has indicated that it wants to replace its former deputy secretary of defence with another American.
Robert Zoellick, former deputy secretary of state, has been named as one credible option, as has Robert Kimmitt, current deputy secretary at the US Treasury.
Respected economist Joe Stiglitz has claimed that Tony Blair is in consideration for the top job at the Bank.
"He is one of the people that is clearly being discussed," Stiglitz said , adding that he would prefer to see a candidate with more experience in economics and development.
Ladbrokes, though, does not appear to see Mr Blair as a likely choice, offering odds on his appointment of 25-1 .
Ashraf Ghani (4/5 favourite at Ladbrokes)
Born in Kabul, he returned to Afghanistan after the US-led invasion in 2001. As finance minister he overhauled the country's treasury, brought in a new currency and attracted $28bn in aid from the international community.
He is chancellor of Kabul University.
He joined the World Bank in 1991, and managed large-scale development programmes in China, India and Russia.
Previously tipped as a future secretary general of the United Nations, there have been suggestions that Mr Ghani might be too volatile and impatient. One acquaintance told the Financial Times last year that "given that he blows up at even his closest friends, I can't see him as the world's leading peace-maker."
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (5/2)
She has been credited with playing a key role in fighting corruption and pushing economic reform in Nigeria during her three-year stint as finance minister. She also attempted to crack down on the "419" scam, in which fraudsters send emails, letters and faxes offering a share of a ficticious fortune.
She studied at Harvard, and has a PhD in regional economics and development from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
In June 2006 she became Nigeria's foreign minister, resigning three months later.
Before becoming finance minister in 2003, she was vice-president and corporate secretary of the World Bank.
Robert Zoellick (7/2)
As number two to Condoleezza Rice at the State Department, Robert Zoellick was seen as a counterpoint to more hardline voices such as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. But he quit in June 2006 after sixteen months as deputy secretary of state, and is currently on the board of Goldman Sachs.
In February 2001 he began a four-year stint as US trade representative, negotiating the entry of China and Taiwan into the World Trade Organisation.
Zoellick attracted headlines last year after posing in China cuddling a panda cub, in an attempt to illustrate the warm relations between China and the US.
Robert Kimmitt (5-1)
The current deputy Treasury secretary has been seen as a potential safe pair of hands for the Bank.
He served in Vietnam, where he was awarded three Bronze Star Medals, the Purple Heart, the Air Medal, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.
He has plenty of political experience, serving as ambassador to Germany between 1991 and 1993, and under secretary of state for political affairs from 1989 to 1991.
Kimmitt's boss, Henry Paulson, has also been suggested as a candidate but the Treasury secretary is not thought to be interested.
Stanley Fischer 14/1
Current governor of the bank of Israel, he was vice president, development economics and chief economist at the World Bank between 1988 and 1990. From 1994 to 2001 he was first deputy managing director at the International Monetary Fund. Very well-regarded as an economist, but his links to the Clinton administration may harm his chances.
Senator Richard Luger (14/1)
Indiana's representative in the US Senate, he is the ranking minority member on the foreign relations committee.
John Bolton (16/1)
Forced to resign as America's ambassador to the United Nations after failing to assuage concerns over his brusque style and criticisms of the UN.
Tony Blair (25/1)
Like Wolfowitz, he is working out his notice. Blair has said he hopes to promote peace in the Middle East and inter-faith dialogue after he finally vacates Downing Street on June 27.
Donald Rumsfeld (100/1)
The two-time secretary of defense and architect of the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan is available, having resigned last November after the Republican party lost control of the House of Representatives and the Senate. However, he may not be seen as an ideal choice to unite a divided World Bank and counter criticism that US should cede control of the selection process for its presidency.
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Govt seeks US aid for fencing border with Afghanistan
Saturday, 19 May, 2007, 09:06 AM Doha Time
ISLAMABAD: The government has informed the US that fencing and mining of its border with Afghanistan alone can stop cross-border movement of militants but it does not have enough resources for the same.
It is learnt that national security adviser Tariq Aziz and the prime minister’s adviser on the federally administrated tribal areas Sahibzada Imtiaz adopted this stand in their talks with a visiting US special envoy.
Ambassador Ronald Neumann had told reporters after the talks on Wednesday that Pakistan had done much in the fighting the US-led war on terror but not to its full capacity.
Sources said Neumann was told it would be too much to expect Pakistan to control the over 2,000km-long porous Pakistan-Afghanistan border on its own and that too without fencing or mining the most-used crossing points - something Kabul and Washington oppose.
Sources said Neumann promised more US financial and technical assistance for strengthening border control but urged the Pakistani officials to take Kabul’s objections into account and Nato and allied forces into confidence on its fencing project.
Neumann was keen to strengthen the Frontier Constabulary and other agencies operating in tribal areas.
Sources said the US envoy was also told that Pakistan has already fenced its border at about eight points along the Pak-Afghan border and some more important areas needed to be fenced.
The US envoy was informed that there was also a need to “revitalise and reorganise” levies to maintain law and order within the federally administrated tribal areas besides enabling them to effectively discharge their duties. Sources said the US envoy was also told that without strengthening levies and other agencies operating in the area, it would be difficult to eliminate smuggling, kidnapping and poppy cultivation and drug trafficking from the area. “We need to strengthen the government’s writ to effectively implement state polices and orders of judicial authorities in the federally administrated tribal areas,” a source said.
A multi-pronged development strategy for the federally administrated tribal areas envisioned improvement in the security environment by having well-trained and organised forces at the disposal of the political administration.
Three agencies - Bajaur, Kurram and Orakzai - have levies force, responsible for maintenance of law and order. – Internews
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Afghan soldiers mass on border with Pakistan
Saturday May 19, 04:41 PM
London, May 19 (ANI): More Afghan troops are gathering in a contested zone to fight the the Taleban, which has made deep inroads in the southern part of the landlocked country.
Times Online quoted Brigadier Sanaoull Haq, a staff officer in the 203 Thunder Corps, as saying, "Now if anything further happens we will reply in kind."
Each side accuses the other of initiating the bombardments, which so far have left 13 Afghans dead and 51 wounded. Foreign diplomats in Kabul fear that the situation, which has united Afghan nationalist sentiment across every ethnic divide, may escalate. It threatens to wreck any semblance of security cooperation between the countries, to the detriment of Nato's struggle with the Taleban.
Tension has been growing for months along the 1,615-mile (2,600km) border shared by Afgahnistan and Pakistan.
Pakistan has recently started building a security fence in selected areas of the border, ostensibly to halt the flow of insurgents. This, in turn, has provoked more Afghan wrath. The Kabul Government does not recognise the Durand Line, the border drawn up by the British in 1893.
The demarcation was intended to divide warlike Pashtun tribes antipathetic to British influence. Now Afghanistan sees the security fence as the de facto consolidation of a border dividing them from tribal areas in Pakistan that they claim as their own.
There was no security fence being built by Pakistan at Toorgawe. Instead, the Afghans say that their police in the post were attacked without warning simply because of its desirable strategic location.
On Monday, a joint Afghan-American delegation flew across the border for talks with Pakistani officers aimed at producing a cease-fire. The meeting was held in a schoolhouse in Teri Mangel, a small town in the Kurram tribal area of Pakistan.
Afghanistan's 46,000-strong army is in no position to take on the military might of Pakistan, besides which diplomatic pressure on both countries makes it extremely unlikely that the scope of fighting will spread between regular forces. (ANI)
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U.S. envoy lauds Afghan mission
By CHRIS MORRIS
OROMOCTO, N.B. (CP) - The U.S. ambassador to Canada concluded a two-day visit to New Brunswick on Friday by thanking students in this small military town for Canada's sacrifices in Afghanistan and its commitment to fighting the war on terror.
David Wilkins described Oromocto, N.B., as a "hometown of heroes" when he spoke at the local high school and neighbouring Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, where people are still grieving the loss of eight soldiers killed last month west of Kandahar City.
In an address to about 1,000 students, Wilkins said the soldiers who were killed - six on Easter Sunday and two more a few days later - gave their lives "carrying liberty's light" to a faraway land.
"They died the way I imagine they lived - boldly and unafraid, knowing their cause was a just and worthy of sacrifice," Wilkins told the students in a hushed auditorium.
"There is a lot of discussion about Canada's role in Afghanistan and about my country's role in Iraq, but I believe history will note that we made the right decision at the right time. We didn't run away when it was hard and when it was dangerous."
Six soldiers, all members of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, based at CFB Gagetown, were killed April 8 when the light-armoured vehicle in which they were travelling struck a roadside bomb.
Three days later, two more soldiers - members of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, based at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa in Ontario - died when their vehicle was destroyed by another roadside bomb.
Since 2002, 54 Canadian soldiers and one Canadian diplomat have been killed in Afghanistan.
Many of the Oromocto students have relatives and friends serving in the military.
Wilkins' visit to the Maritimes comes as the U.S. administration is enjoying a particularly close relationship with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his minority Conservative government.
But with support for the mission in Afghanistan wavering among Canadians, the U.S. government is keen to ensure Canada maintains its military commitment there as U.S. political leaders struggle to deal with a deepening military quagmire in Iraq.
In Oromocto, during a brief question-and-answer period, one student had a simple question for Wilkins: "When will the war on terror be over?"
Wilkins said no one knows.
"I don't think there's any magic date," said Wilkins, a good friend of President George W. Bush who has served as ambassador to Canada for two years.
"The war on terror needs to be waged as long as there are those in the world attempting to do harm to freedom democracies like Canada and the United States."
Col. Ryan Jestin, commander of CFB Gagetown, said he had just returned from Afghanistan where he found the troops in good spirits.
"The reality is we are making a difference in Afghanistan," Jestin said. "They may be small steps and the full impact may not be known for several years, but the soldiers feel they are doing important work."
Wilkins said the progress in Afghanistan has been significant, and he singled out the recent killing of Taliban military commander Mullah Dadullah in a U.S.-led attack.
"We are making some definite progress," he said. "Where there was once terror and tyranny, now stands the foundations of a young democracy."
Gagetown was the latest of several Canadian military bases Wilkins has visited in recent weeks to deliver his message of thanks from the U.S. administration.
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Denmark says troops to remain in Afghanistan
People's Daily Online, China
The Danish prime minister promised that Danish forces will remain in Afghanistan until the country was free of Taliban insurgents, according to reports reaching here from Copenhagen on Friday.
Denmark will not leave Afghanistan in the lurch, said Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen during a visit to that country, the Copenhagen Post reported.
He ensured the country that in addition to leaving troops in Afghanistan until the country is secure, Denmark will also continue to focus on humanitarian projects.
Rasmussen met with Afghan president Hamid Karzai in Kabul on Thursday to address the country's eroding security situation.
"Outside forces will be required in Afghanistan over what I would call an open time period," Rasmussen told Denmark's Jyllands- Posten newspaper.
Rasmussen said bringing security to Helmand province, where Danish forces are staying, and stopping the harvesting of opium there were keys to the Danish military's assignment.
"In order to solve the opium problems and other issues, it is necessary that we secure full military control of Helmand province. Unfortunately, there are still parts of the region outside of that control," the prime minister said.
In a few weeks the Danish parliament is expected to approve a plan to send 200 more soldiers to Afghanistan, raising the total number to 640. the parliament is also expected to vote to permit the military to send as many as 40 commandos if necessary.
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Jordan Hosting World Economic Forum
May 18, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Jordanian King Abdullah II is hosting more than 700 politicians and business leaders at the World Economic Forum.
Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai, Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni are among those expected to attend the three-day meeting in the Dead Sea resort of Shuneh.
Organizers say the theme of this year's forum is "putting diversity to work" in order to accelerate economic growth and promote regional peace.
Meetings at the forum are expected to include discussions of ways to end the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.
King Abdullah hosted Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert earlier this week to discuss an Arab peace plan.
A meeting of the G11 group of developing countries is due to be held on the sidelines of the forum on May 19.
The G11 brings together Croatia, Ecuador, Georgia, Honduras, Indonesia, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, Paraguay, Sri Lanka, and El Salvador.
The group says it is dedicated to reducing the debt owed by its member states, alleviating poverty, and raising standards of living.
King Abdullah announced the establishment of the G11 last September.
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‘Pakistan’s help essential for stable Afghanistan’
Daily Times, Pakistan
PESHAWAR: Pakistan’s help is of vital significance for the US to establish peace in war-torn Afghanistan, and without its support Afghanistan can never be peaceful.
These views were expressed by DC think-tank Brooking Institute’s Dr Philip H Gordon at the Lincoln corner University of Peshawar on Friday. Delivering a lecture on ‘Pak-US Relations’, Dr Philip said the American mission to stabilise Afghanistan was not possible without cooperation from Pakistan, which had entered a long-term strategic relationship with the US to reach this goal.
Dr Phillip said, “we are working together to ensure that Al Qaeda and the Taliban are completely flushed out from Pakistan” and adding, “The Bush administration fully supports democracy.”
He said it was unfortunate that the partners on terror were victims of terror adding that more attention should be focused on the economy as poverty was the root-cause of most problems.
“We cannot win a war on terror through repression and violence alone as it will lead to more violence and turbulence,” he said, adding that an influx of money and an economic boost could be the only remedies to the problem. He said the US, like other countries, had strategic interests that led to partnerships and added that geo-strategic politics creates relationships.
He said that President Pervez Musharraf was a strong United States ally in the on-going war on terror and that the American government highly valued the courageous and bold policies of the Pakistani government in this regard.
He admitted that the strategic interests of the United States sometimes clashed with human rights interests that should be reviewed and taken into consideration to win over people ‘s hearts.
He agreed that the US should grant more aids and extend financial assistance to Pakistan as it is the major victim of terrorism in the aftermath of 9/11. In response to the ups and downs in the US-Pak relationship in the past, he said the relationship was often dominated by negative images that should be replaced with positive ones.
He said that the US was paying a heavy price for supporting Mujahideen in Afghanistan during the Russian invasion, and added that US forces should not have left Afghanistan at that crucial time. He maintained that the strategy of winning over the hearts of the people and a democratic set-up could be a lasting remedy to the growing threat of Muhahideen. staff report
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Border skirmishes won't affect jirga, hopes Karzai
KABUL, May 17 (Pajhwok Afghan News): President Hamid Karzai Thursday hoped deadly border clashes, triggering furious protests from residents of the southeastern zone, will not affect a planned Pak-Afghan peace jirga.
We are sad about civilian casualties and want to end the skirmishes which are not in the interest of either country, said the president, who discounted the Pakistani attacks as minor incidents that would not scuttle the jirga - scheduled to meet in the first week of August.
Addressing a joint news conference with visiting Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the sprawling Presidential Palace here, Karzai said he had directed his defence and interior ministers to protect the people with all means available.
Nevertheless, the president hastened to explain he had cautioned Afghan security forces against the use of artillery fire which might cause civilian casualties in Kurram Agency across the Durand Line.
The visiting dignitary, who announced an increase in military as well as financial assistance to Afghanistan, said Denmarks parliament would decide in a weeks on deploying more troops to the war-ravaged country.
In coming years, the level of Copenhagens overall assistance to Kabul would touch the $40 million mark as a result of a 30 percent hike, the prime minister pointed out. The aid would focus on promoting education, human rights and development of remote districts, he continued.
Expected to arrive in August, the additional Danish troops may be deployed to the lawless south to fight insurgents and help pave the ground for the reconstruction of the Helmand province - currently the scene of a huge anti-terrorism operation.
Rasmussen also announced the return to Afghanistan of what he called an opulent archaeological treasure confiscated by Danish border police some years back. He remarked safeguarding Afghanistans world-famous cultural heritage was a common responsibility of the global fraternity.
Symbolically, the premier handed President Karzai one (a tiny lion sculpted in clay) of the 4,000 pieces including a collection of rare coins from different eras, saying the gesture would help expand cultural and people-to-people contacts between the friendly countries.
Reminded that the masses, frustrated by a string of stray NATO and Coalition airstrikes, were increasingly turning to Taliban for help, Karzai observed the people had every right to protest civilian casualties but they stood united against terrorists and extremists.
He once again asked NATO and Coalition forces to coordinate their operations with Afghan security officials so as to ensure an end to the so-called collateral damage. His government would do what it took to protect the civilians, the president resolved.
The additional Danish troops would be tasked with fighting terrorism while the government forces themselves would press on with eradicating poppies, which he characterised as national problem that required an internal solution.
Karzai listed sustained international assistance in different sectors of the economy - education, infrastructure, alternative livelihood and law-enforcement - as an appropriate means of dealing with the challenge posed by drugs.
Reported by Zubair Babakarkhel
Translated & edited by S. Mudassir Ali Shah
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Spanta has lost legal status as FM: Qanuni
KABUL, May 17 (Pajhwok Afghan News): Dr Rangin Dadfar Spanta lost his legal status as foreign minister the day Parliament refused to repose confidence in him, Wolesi Jirga Speaker Younus Qanuni said on Thursday.
Voted out by lawmakers on Saturday, Spanta had no right to attend official meetings, functions, gatherings or negotiations as foreign minister, the speaker told a crowded news conference here.
But President Hamid Karzai - objecting to the unseating of his foreign minister over an issue not directly related to his job - referred the matter to the Supreme Court for interpretation. He also asked the minister to continue until the apex court gave its ruling.
However, Qanuni viewed Karzai's intervention as a violation of the Constitution and rules of the Wolesi Jirga. On May 13, Spanta ceased to be minister, remarked Qanuni, who repeatedly referred to the man as "ex-foreign minister" at the news conference.
Dr Spanta and Minister for Refugees Affairs Muhammad Akbar Akbar were removed from their seats as a result of no-trust votes against them last week.
In his testimony before parliamentarians, Spanta had said the government had not signed any agreement with the Iranian authorities on expulsion of refugees from that country.
But Qanuni showed journalists a piece of paper that he called a copy of the agreement signed by the Afghan government and officials of the UNHCR on the eviction of refugees from Iran.
Holding Spanta accountable for what happened to the refugees in Iran, Qanuni said the ministers statement that he was unaware of the accord was extremely regrettable.
Even if he was in picture, he was again responsible for not taking action or discussing the issue with the Iranian authorities, Qanuni argued.
Earlier, members of the Wolesi Jirga boycotted the session to register their protest against President Karzai's referral of the matter to the Supreme Court.
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Back in circulation, Kabul Weekly hits newsstands
KABUL, May 16 (Pajhwok Afghan News): Afghanistans independent magazine Kabul Weekly has resumed publication, hitting newsstands in Kabul after five months of suspension forced by a financial crisis.
Encouragingly, the 10-page weekly is back in circulation with a neat and coloured layout. Priced at five afghanis, the trilingual periodical - claiming a circulation of 7,000 copies - contains articles in Dari, Pashto and English.
The Kabul Weekly staffers - apparently in high spirits - committed themselves to the welfare of the people whom they regard the real strength of the Afghan nation.
Its editorial reads: Some politicians, in a bid to muster our support for their propaganda, offered us cash and political patronage. But we rejected all such offers.
The day it suspended publication, the weekly appealed to UNESCO, Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF) and the Open Society Institute (OSI), which pledged to fund part of its budget.
With a grant of $12,000, UNESCO had helped the Kabul Weekly - whose hard-hitting reporting often earned it the wrath of intolerant rulers in the past - in its re-launch back in February 1993.
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