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Rumsfeld Arrives In Afghanistan

Rumsfeld (left) with Afghan President Karzai in Kabul in December 2005 (epa) July 11, 2006 -- U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld arrived today in Afghanistan for talks with President Hamid Karzai and other officials.

Rumsfeld is expected to discuss ways of curbing escalating violence between coalition forces and Taliban insurgents, and NATO's plans to assume security responsibility in southern Afghanistan.

Rumsfeld visited neighboring Tajikistan on July 10.

Rumsfeld's visit comes amid renewed fighting between the U.S.-led coalition and Taliban fighters. The coalition says its forces killed 30 suspected Taliban fighters in combat in the southern Helmand Province early today. The operation took place in the Sangin district of Helmand.

Meanwhile, a top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General Karl Eikenberry, said that power vacuums in areas of southern Afghanistan where the government has little presence have contributed to rising Taliban violence.

(AFP, Reuters, AP)

Saving Afghanistan's Heritage

Saving Afghanistan's Heritage

A UNESCO team working to stabilize Herat minarets in 2003 (UNESCO)

THE MINARETS OF HERAT: In Afghanistan's leafy western city of Herat, a two-lane road slices between the city's five remaining 15th-century minarets. Every truck, car, bus, motorcycle, and horse-drawn carriage that passes by sends vibrations coursing through the delicate structures.
In particular, the Fifth Minaret -- all 55 meters of it -- seems ready to collapse into a dusty heap of bricks and colored tiles at any moment. A large crack near its base makes drivers speed up just a little as they pass by....(more)

Click on the image to view an audio slideshow of this story by RFE/RL correspondent Grant Podelco.


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