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Monday, 28 January, 2002, 19:59 GMT
Bush pledges Afghan aid boost
Afghan flag raised in Washington DC
Mr Karzai reopened the Afghan embassy in Washington
US President George W Bush has pledged an extra $50m in credit for reconstruction projects in war-ravaged Afghanistan and training for a national army and police force there.

Better yet than peacekeepers, which will be there for a while with our help, let's have Afghanistan have her own military

President George W Bush
"The United States will continue to be a friend to the Afghan people and all the challenges that lie ahead," Mr Bush said at a press conference following a meeting with Afghanistan's interim leader, Hamid Karzai, in the White House.

Mr Karzai thanked Mr Bush and the American people for their help and said the US-led operation against terrorism in Afghanistan must go "to the absolute end".

"We must break them out of their caves and their hideouts, we promise to do that," Mr Karzai said, apparently referring to al-Qaeda and Taleban militants.

Mr Bush said his pledge to help Afghanistan develop its own military was "a significant change of policy" for the United States.

It is "better yet than [foreign] peacekeepers," Mr Bush said.

Embassy reopened

Mr Karzai, who is being afforded all the privileges of a full state visit, said that aid from the US and other nations was vital to Afghanistan's future.

"The contribution of financial assistance by the United States and the rest of the world is significant in preventing the return of bad people to Afghanistan or the return of terrorism to Afghanistan," he said.

Colin Powell and Abdullah Abdullah
Colin Powell held talks last week with interim Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah

Before going to the White House, Mr Karzai presided over the raising of Afghanistan's flag at the official reopening of the embassy.

The Afghan embassy was closed in 1996 when the US refused to recognise the Taleban takeover.

Mr Karzai will also meet Vice President Dick Cheney, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Mr Powell is believed to have asked Mr Bush to change his present policy on the terrorist suspects captured in Afghanistan and taken to the military camp in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Anger over US raid

He reportedly asked the president to declare that the detainees would be protected under the Geneva Convention, designed to protect prisoners of war, even if they were still classified as unlawful combatants.

In Afghanistan, anger is growing at the bombing three days ago of a Taleban compound in Hazar Qadam, north of Kandahar.

The US insists the raid killed 15 al-Qaeda fighters, but village elders say the 15 had been sent to the compound by a pro-government official to negotiate the surrender of weapons from Taleban hideouts.

The US continues to drop bombs across eastern Afghanistan in an effort to wipe out the last of the Taleban.

But protests are growing, as villagers say it is innocent civilians who are dying.

The BBC's Nick Bryant
"The visit had been intricately stage managed"
See also:

21 Jan 02 | Media reports
Karzai's plea for aid
17 Jan 02 | South Asia
Powell boost for new Afghan leader
09 Jan 02 | Media reports
Karzai's nationwide address
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