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Rumsfeld Arrives In Afghanistan For Pre-Election Talks


11 August 2004 -- U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld arrived in Afghanistan today for talks with U.S. commanders and Afghan officials as insurgents step up attacks ahead of the presidential election scheduled for October.

In Kabul, Rumsfeld is scheduled to meet with Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai and other officials. During his one-day visit, he is also scheduled to visit the eastern city of Jalalabad to meet U.S. military officials.

Earlier, Rumsfeld told reporters aboard his plane that a series of attacks by Afghanistan's former ruling Taliban and Islamic militants will not succeed in disrupting Afghanistan's election on 9 October.

"We know that the Taliban and the Al-Qaeda are operating on the borders of the country. We know that they are determined to not have Afghanistan be a successful free nation. They would like very much to be able to re-impose their will over the Afghan people, and to use that area as a terrorist training area and operating base. They're not going to," Rumsfeld said.

Rumsfeld also said efforts to create democracy in Afghanistan are threatened by the drug trade but that a "master plan" is being developed to combat the problem.

(Reuters/AFP)
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