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Powell Promotes Voter Registration In Kabul

Kabul, 17 March 2004 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell today visited a girls' school being used as a voter registration center in the Afghan capital Kabul, where he encouraged more women to participate in the June elections.

"At this school, I have been very impressed by the [voter] registration process that is taking place. Throughout the country right now, some 8,000 people a day are being registered as we move forward with the process of preparing Afghanistan for its elections," he said.

Powell, who arrived in Kabul today from New Delhi, said after talks with President Hamid Karzai that the United States will maintain its long-term commitment in Afghanistan and provide a new round of funding at an upcoming donor conference: "President Bush is totally committed to the reconstruction and rebuilding of Afghanistan into a nation that will be resting on a constitution. It will be a democracy with an economy that begins to flourish and where all people in the society can have hope for a better future."

Karzai said they agreed to continue cooperation in the antiterrorism efforts in Afghanistan, where U.S.-led forces recently started a new offensive in search of Taliban and Al-Qaeda loyalists.

Powell is scheduled to continue on to Islamabad for talks with Pakistani leaders that will address the fight against terrorism. Pakistani forces are also involved in a hunt for Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants near the Afghan border.