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U.S. Diplomat Says Afghan Vote Is Milestone

16 July 2004 -- U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage today said Afghans will "reclaim their futures" when they vote in the upcoming presidential elections.

Speaking in Kabul, Armitage said the vote, scheduled for 9 October, will be an important milestone in Afghanistan after decades of war. He said the attention of the entire international community is on Afghanistan.

After meeting with election workers, Armitage praised Afghans for their hard work in keeping the planned elections on track.

Afghanistan's U.S.-backed government had hoped to hold both elections last June, then in September, but logistical and security problems have forced delays. The parliamentary vote is now scheduled for April.

Armitage is expected to meet with Afghan Trnsitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai later today.