Rice, Miliband Make Surprise Visit to Kabul
Published: February 8, 2008 (Issue # 1346)
KABUL — U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice denied here Thursday the allied strategy to stabilise Afghanistan was failing, saying it was incomplete and needed innovation to crush “determined enemies.”
Rice made her case during a press conference in Kabul with President Hamid Karzai and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband who accompanied her on a surprise visit here amid growing fears for Afghanistan’s future.
“You have determined enemies. We know that. The Taliban and Al-Qaeda continue to make life difficult” for ordinary Afghans, the top US diplomat told Karzai in the highly fortified and snow-covered presidential palace.
She said the NATO-led force and Afghan security forces had to focus much more on fighting new Taliban tactics such as suicide bombings and kidnappings after large-scale offensives mounted by the militants had failed.
“They’ve tried to adopt other tactics, like going after innocent people. We’ll have to adapt too. The Afghan government, the Afghan forces will have to adapt,” Rice said.
“But to say it’s not working, I think, I would say it’s not complete, but the strategy is one, I believe, that is having a good effect,” she said.
Miliband said the response of key allies to the new Taliban tactics amounted to a “new phase” in the six-year war.
Rice and Karzai hailed the building of road networks since U.S.-led forces toppled the Taliban and its Al-Qaeda allies at the end of 2001 — something the U.S. diplomat said helped boost the economy as well as find the militants.
They also cited improvements in health and education, other signs Rice said showed the country had made a “remarkable difference for the better” over the many decades it had spent as a failed state.
Rice and Miliband were also here as part of a joint bid to urge NATO allies to share the burden in Afghanistan by sending more combat troops, helicopters and other military equipment to defeat a resurgent Taliban in its southern strongholds.
Germany rebuffed U.S. appeals last week to send such troops in a public tiff that fuelled fears voiced in Washington and London that the international community may fragment and abandon Afghanistan.
Canada has meanwhile threatened not to extend its mission beyond next year unless it gets more support.Pages: