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Powell: US to Pledge Additional 1-Billion To Afghanistan - 2004-03-17


U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says the United States will pledge another one billion dollars in Afghan reconstruction aid at a donors' conference later this month.

On a tour of South Asia, Mr. Powell announced the pledge today (Wednesday), before departing the Afghan capital for neighboring Pakistan. The new pledge will raise U.S. aid to Afghanistan to two-point-two billion dollars this year.

In Pakistan, Mr. Powell meets Thursday with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and other key government leaders.

The Secretary said he will discuss separatist infiltration into Kashmir during the meeting. He is also expected to present Islamabad with more information on the now exposed nuclear proliferation ring headed by top Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan.

Mr. Khan has admitted supplying sensitive nuclear material to Libya and Iran, and Secretary Powell has said the United States wants to see the proliferation ring completely uprooted.

Before leaving Afghanistan, Mr. Powell was briefed by commanders of U.S.-led forces on new operations launched to hunt al-Qaida and Taleban militants in southern and eastern Afghanistan.

Similar operations are also under way across the border in Pakistan, where government-controlled paramilitary troops have also been searching for militants in tribal regions.

In an op-ed article published in Pakistani media today (Wednesday), Mr. Powell said the U.S. -Pakistani alliance is crucial to protecting both countries and the world from terrorism. He added that efforts by the two nations have put al-Qaida on the defensive.

Information for this report is provided by AFP and Reuters.

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