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Afghanistan's foreign minister upbeat


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Afghanistan's interim foreign minister expressed optimism Saturday that his nation can rebuild after more than two decades of conflict, provided that the international community remains committed to supplying support.

"What we need is continued engagement from the United States, first of all, in the war against terror, which will help stability in Afghanistan and the whole region ... and also in the reconstruction efforts of our people," Abdullah told CNN.

"It is a major challenge. We are aware of it."

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"What is going on in the political process is a transition from war to peace. After 22 years of war, we have won the war, virtually, and we have to win the peace," Abdullah said.

"It is rebuilding the state from scratch in all aspects of it -- political, economical, from the infrastructure point of view, cultural, social. It is an enormous task. But I'm sure the Afghans will do it with the support of the international community," he said.

Abdullah is in Washington to prepare for a visit by interim Afghanistan chairman Hamid Karzai, who is scheduled to meet with President Bush Monday, his first official meeting with Bush since assuming control after the fall of the Taliban regime.

On Friday, Abdullah met with Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. Powell, who visited Kabul, the Afghan capital, this month, vowed that the United States would stand by the Afghan people.

Abdullah also gave the Council on Foreign Relations an outline of Afghanistan's reconstruction plan to rebuild the devastated country.

 Abdullah Abdullah
  • AGE -- Early 40s
  • EDUCATION -- Medical doctor
  • TITLE -- Foreign minister
  • ETHNICITY -- Tajik
  • RELIGION -- Muslim
  • FACTION -- Northern Alliance

  • Source: The Associated Press

    He told the group that the interim administration is developing a constitution for Afghanistan and will make substantial efforts to include women and the nation's various ethnic groups in the government.

    Members of the commission that will organize the tribal council or Loya Jirga, whose task is to choose a transitional government at mid-year, were announced Friday. Women are included among the commission's members.

    "The opportunity is there," Abdullah said Saturday.

    "We were optimistic even before September 11 when there were no opportunities and we were trying hard, struggling hard, to create that opportunity," he said. "We, as Afghans, have to seize it, and have to seize it quickly, and our friends should support us. Together we can make it."




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