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Afghanistan: Minister Rallies Greater International Support

Foreign Minister Spanta (right) shakes hands with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso on June 5 (AFP) Afghanistan's foreign minister has called for more international help to fight terrorism and eradicate unrest in his war-torn country. Rangin Dadfar Spanta made the remarks during a speech today in Tokyo hosted by the Japan Institute of International Affairs.

PRAGUE, June 6, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- A resurgent Taliban concentrates its forces in southern Afghanistan to battle freshly deployed NATO troops. Pakistan-based militants cross back and forth over the border with Afghanistan seemingly at will. Afghan drug barons continue to hold sway over large parts of the country. Warlords continue to maintain illegal militias.

Foreign Minister Spanta commented on those and other problems during his speech in the Japanese capital.

"The problem of terrorism is not only the problem of Afghanistan," Spanta said. "It is an international problem. It is our common task to liquidate terrorism. My appeal is [that] it is our common war. Take part and support [so] that Afghanistan will be never again be a secure haven for terrorism."

Recent Violence

In the past two months, Afghanistan has seen some of its worst violence since the Taliban regime was ousted in 2001. So far this year, some 900 people have been killed in battles between Taliban fighters and the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan. More than half of those deaths have occurred during the past month.

The upsurge in Taliban activities in the south coincides with preparations by troops from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to take over military operations in southern provinces from coalition forces.

Spanta says the government in Kabul, together with the international community, needs to address the causes of terrorism rather than the symptoms.

"I think that the three important and main challenges of Afghanistan [are] terrorism, the narcotics problem, and the problem of how to have a very effective government to deliver services to the people of Afghanistan,"

Signs Of Renewal?

But despite the obstacles, Spanta said Afghanistan is beginning to develop a civil society after three decades of war.

"Afghanistan's civil society has been thriving," Spanta said. "Now there are more than 300 newspapers and magazines and over 50 radio and TV stations across the country. The majority of these media outlets are independent of the government."

Afghanistan desperately needs foreign investment to rebuild its economy and basic infrastructure after three decades of war. But Kabul's hopes to attract private investment may have been hurt by violent unrest in the capital on May 29 that was sparked by a deadly traffic accident involving a U.S. military truck.

Spanta was in Tokyo to participate as an observer in a meeting on June 5 of foreign ministers from Central Asia and Japan.

RFE/RL Afghanistan Report

RFE/RL Afghanistan Report

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