Friday, November 10, 2006

Afghanistan Thanks Rumsfeld

Afghanistan said it was grateful for the support of former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld but did not believe his departure from the post would herald a change in US policy to this country. The United States is the main supporter of post-Taliban Afghanistan, having led the offensive to topple the extremist regime in late 2001 months after the September 11 attacks blamed on Al-Qaeda leaders being sheltered here. It has 20,000 troops in Afghanistan and is the main funder of efforts to rebuild the country. Rumsfeld made several trips here during his six years in office to reaffirm support for President Hamid Karzai's government. "We are grateful for what Mr Donald Rumsfeld has done in supporting Afghanistan in the past five years," presidential spokesman Khaleeq Ahmad told reporters."We are also sure that Mr Rumsfeld's departure won't affect US policy on Afghanistan," he said. A top US official visiting Kabul also said earlier he did not believe Rumsfeld's departure or the Democrats' win in US mid-term elections would alter US policy and commitment towards Afghanistan. The stabilization of Afghanistan was in the US national interest and both Democrats and Republicans were committed to the task, the US assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs told reporters in Kabul. "There is very strong support among both Republicans and Democrats for the mission in Afghanistan for the efforts we are making here, the funding is needed to support Afghanistan...," Richard Boucher said. "So I have every confidence that kind of support is going to continue whatever the make-up of Congress," he said. Boucher said there was commitment for Afghanistan from "all sides of politics" in the United States. "It's a national effort on part of the United States here and something that is very important to our national interest and helping Afghanistan is something we all agree on and we are all very committed to," he said.