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U.S. Secretary Rice Pledges Long-Term Commitment in Kabul Interview with RFE/RL

(Prague, Czech Republic--March 18, 2005) U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice assured Afghans, in an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Kabul, that "the United States is a long-term partner and friend for the Afghan people."

Asked about permanent military bases in Afghanistan, Rice said: "we have not yet determined what we would do in terms of our presence here but we are committed to a long-term relationship." She emphasized that the U.S. operation in Iraq is not being carried out at the expense of "finishing the job in Afghanistan," and that "U.S. attention will be very strong in Afghanistan."

Rice spoke to RFE/RL correspondent Neda Farhat on March 17, in a wide-ranging interview at the end of her brief visit to Kabul. Rice noted that the rights of women figured high on her agenda during talks earlier that day with President Hamid Karzai, saying they discussed "the progress women are making in this country and the need for further education."

The Radio Free Afghanistan interview with Secretary Rice, translated into Dari and Pashto, Afghanistan's two main languages, aired yesterday in the prime time evening newshour and was repeated twice in today's broadcasts. A full transcript of the interview in English can be found on RFE/RL's website and on the State Department website.

Farhat, a young woman in her early 20s, is one of seven female journalists working for RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan in Kabul. Two other women report for Radio Free Afghanistan from the provinces, raising the total number of female journalists in RFE/RL's 27-correspondent network throughout Afghanistan to nine. Radio Free Afghanistan broadcasts 12 hours daily, as part of a joint 24-hour stream with Voice of America.