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1/31/04- BUSH ON AFGHANISTAN - 2004-02-02

Lakhdar Brahimi, the former chief United Nations representative in Afghanistan, recently addressed the U-N Security Council. Mr. Brahimi said that Afghanistan faces challenges in strengthening the rule of law, improving security, and increasing the pace of reconstruction.

The U.S., its friends and allies remain committed to helping a free Afghanistan. The country under the extremist Taleban regime was the primary training base for al-Qaida. That’s where the terrorists learned how to murder innocent people. The Taleban rejected an ultimatum to rid Afghanistan of the terrorist menace. As a result of its refusal, said President George W. Bush, the Taleban regime “no longer exist[s]”:

“This barbaric regime is no more. And the people of Afghanistan are better off for it. We love the fact that people in Afghanistan are now free. Remember, prior to our arrival, the Taleban wouldn’t even let young girls go to school -- and today they do.”

In December a loya jirga, made up of Afghan men and women from across the country, approved a new constitution that calls for free elections and the full participation in government of women. “Things are changing,” says President Bush:

“Freedom is powerful. The people of Afghanistan are opening up health care centers and new businesses. Times are changing because they have been liberated. America is safer because the Taleban doesn’t exist. America is safer because Afghanistan is now free. And we stand strongly with the freedom lovers in Afghanistan.”

Rahim Allah is in charge of a forty-man platoon in the new Afghan national army. As he puts it: “I am very hopeful for the future, that it will be a peaceful future [in which] all Afghans from north and south, east and west, will work together as one nation for the rebuilding of a devastated land.”