More than one-thousand representatives and tribal leaders from across Afghanistan met with President Hamid Karzai to consider their country's security needs. Jawed Ludin, a spokesman for president Karzai, says most of the delegates support Mr. Karzai's proposal to continue military ties with the U.S. and other nations:
"We are delighted that people, on the whole, are very positive about this, and I think that people are thinking, by and large, exactly [on] the same line as we had expected."
"We need the assistance," said Mr. Ludin, "of the United States, NATO troops, and international coalition forces until we have our own security forces and reach the point that we no longer need that assistance."
Some seventeen-thousand U.S. troops are serving in Afghanistan. The NATO-led International Security and Assistance Force currently numbers some eight-thousand soldiers from thirty-seven nations. Turkish general Ethem Erdagy commands the force, which is extending its role to western Afghanistan.
President Karzai says the Afghan people "wholeheartedly welcome" troops from other countries as a symbol of the commitment to help rebuild Afghanistan. "Afghanistan suffered," he said, "because after the Soviet withdrawal, [in 1989] the international community withdrew from us."
The United States is helping the Afghan military meet the threat posed by Taleban remnants and other extremists. U.S. troops are moving out of the Tarin Kowt area of central Afghanistan. Afghan troops are taking their place.
One of these Afghan soldiers, Sergeant Alladad, said he and his men are a welcome sight to Afghan villagers. "When the people see the green beret [of Afghan army soldiers], they know we represent an army that holds Islamic values," he said.
An important task of Afghan security forces is to safeguard the upcoming September parliamentary elections. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the U.S. "will stand by the Afghan people as they go through the next phase of their democratic development, the parliamentary elections that will take place this fall." Ms. Rice said that the success of freedom in Afghanistan "will give strength and hope to reformers" in other countries.
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.