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Afghanistan: First Lady Says U.S. Public Backs Rebuilding

Prague, 21 May 2002 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. First Lady Laura Bush told the Afghan people in a radio address today that the American public strongly supports Afghanistan's reconstruction. Speaking at the Prague headquarters of Radio Free Afghanistan, the wife of President George W. Bush said America will stand with the Afghan people as they seek to rebuild from more than two decades of war.

She said that, as one sign of popular support, American children have raised more than $4 million to help pay for food and medicine for Afghanistan. This assistance is in addition to hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. government and other aid.

Bush said she hopes Afghan women will again play a full role in Afghan society: "I understand the lives of women in America and the lives of women in Afghanistan are very different, and I respect our differences and your decisions. Yet I want you to know that the isolation the Taliban forced on you is not normal, not by international standards, not by Islamic standards, and not by Afghanistan's own standards."

The U.S. first lady is due to leave Prague tomorrow to join her husband in Berlin as the American president starts a European tour that will include official visits to Germany, Russia, France, and Italy.

To read the full text of First Lady Laura Bush's address broadcast on Radio Free Afghanistan in Dari and Pashtu, please see here.