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Biden to propose reconstruction if Afghanistan attacked

Sen. Joseph Biden
Sen. Joseph Biden, center, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, hinted at an initiative after a luncheon Wednesday at the State Department.  

By CNN State Department Correspondent Andrea Koppel and State Department Producer Elise Labott

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Joseph Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is expected to propose legislation for a long-term reconstruction and development plan in Central and South Asia following any military campaign against Afghanistan, an aide to the senator told CNN on Wednesday.

The senator will propose the plan, similar in nature to the Marshall Plan's reconstruction of Europe after World War II, in an effort to create an economic and social climate in which terrorists will not be able to operate, the aide said.

The aide said the initiative would cover Afghanistan and the Central Asian countries, including Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, as well as Pakistan.

"It is about draining the swamp," he said. "(Biden) is looking ahead, thinking strategically about what comes next for the region."

Biden hinted at the initiative -- which he is expected to announce on the Senate floor Wednesday night -- after a luncheon at the State Department with Secretary of State Colin Powell and other members of the committee.

"We broad strokes, the aid that's already going to help the Afghan people," Biden said about the talks with Powell, adding that they addressed "the need to put together a broader coalition, probably under the mandate of the United Nations, but with our strong support of follow-on after this undertaking to take out Mr. bin Laden and his associates happens."

"Its important that we not only demonstrate that we are able to take down Mr. bin Laden and Al Qaeda, but that this is not about Islam," Biden said. "This is not about Muslims. This is not a war on anyone other than al Qaeda and those who support and sustain the undertakings of al Qaeda and Mr. bin Laden."

Last week, in an emergency meeting of donor nations for Afghanistan, State Department officials said that officials discussed an eventual reconstruction of the country.

The United States is also working on a strategy to replace the Taliban with what it says would be a more broad-based, representative Afghan government.

Sources said many within the ruling Taliban regime are already deserting. One official estimated the figure at 400-500 out of 6,000 around the capital city of Kabul.

The United States plan is to have a "transitional apparatus" at the ready "to move in" should the Taliban fracture. That apparatus could include the deposed Afghan king. Officials said he would act as a "lightning rod" to help bring the Afghan opposition together, including all tribes and ethnic groups as well as moderate members of the Taliban and Northern Alliance.


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