Home>News Center>World

Afghan leader calls for NATO to send more troops
Updated: 2004-06-15 08:54

Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on NATO on Tuesday to get more peacekeeping forces into his country ahead of planned September elections, but said he was not seeking additional U.S. troops.

Karzai and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, in an outdoor news conference at the spot where a hijacked plane slammed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, both also expressed confidence that Osama bin Laden, whose al Qaeda network was blamed for the attack, will be captured, but did not guess when.

Karzai was scheduled to meet on Tuesday with U.S. President Bush.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (R) escorts Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai to his car after their meeting at the Pentagon, June 14, 2004. Karzai, who is in Washington for meeting with President George W. Bush and other U.S. officials, said he remained committed to holding landmark elections in September and more eligible voters were being registered every day. [Reuters]
After a meeting with Rumsfeld, who has visited Afghanistan six times, Karzai said he did not make a "specific request" for the United States to add to the roughly 20,000 troops it currently has in Afghanistan.

"The United States is already busy in Afghanistan helping us in reconstruction, and helping us fight terrorism and helping us secure our borders," Karzai said.

But he said he expected NATO "to fulfill the promise that we have been made. We are hoping that NATO will come to Afghanistan especially before the elections of September."

NATO took charge of the International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, troops last year. The alliance leads roughly 6,000 peacekeepers concentrated in the capital Kabul, and a small civilian-military team in the northern city of Kunduz.

But NATO has struggled to expand its peacekeeping operation into unruly provinces because of allies' reluctance to commit costly military equipment such as helicopters and planes. Many NATO allies argue that their militaries are overstretched by operations around the globe, including Iraq and the Balkans.

Karzai, picked to serve as president by a traditional Afghan council, is seeking election as president in the elections originally planned for June but now scheduled for September.

The United States has roughly doubled its troop total in the country this year amid an intensified effort to track down al Qaeda and Taliban fugitives including bin Laden. U.S.-led forces in 2001 toppled the Taliban regime, which had harbored al Qaeda.

"All nations, yours and ours, have had fugitives in our histories. And has a fugitive run forever? No, at least not in my country," said Karzai, referring to bin Laden. "So he's a fugitive right now. He's hiding somewhere. And he's on the run. And we're after him. We'll catch him one day, sooner or later."

U.S. officials have said they believe bin Laden is hiding in the rugged Afghan-Pakistani border areas.

Karzai also emphasized his commitment against the cultivation of poppies in Afghanistan, the world's top opium-producing country, but called for "strong, consistent international support." He did not elaborate or fault any specific country's efforts.

"The fight against poppies is the fight for Afghanistan. And no matter who or how, we will not allow this to continue. Poppies criminalize the Afghan economy. Poppies prevent the institution-building in Afghanistan. Poppies go hand-in-hand with terrorism," Karzai said.

  Today's Top News     Top World News

Opinion: CCP personnel reform to aid governance



Fixed asset investment growth slowing



Taiwan investors welcome in mainland



Will power crunch upset global investors?



Bodies of slain workers brought home



US said to hand over Saddam in 2 weeks


  Afghan leader calls for NATO to send more troops
  Four British soldiers charged with abuse
  12 killed in Iraq suicide bombing
  EU voters send no-confidence message in low poll
  Powell: Terrorism report a 'big mistake'
  US Ex-President Bush makes birthday skydive
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  Related Stories  
Karzai invites Taliban to join in Afghan poll
Karzai: US airstrike killed 10 Afghans
Karzai: Afghan leadership faces biggest challenges
Karzai says Taliban leader alive, will be caught
  News Talk  
  Does the approval of UN resolution on Iraq end daily bloodshed there?