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Tuesday, 16 October, 2001, 18:41 GMT 19:41 UK
'A decade to rebuild Afghanistan'
US fighter
Mr Straw outlined the objectives of the campaign
The task of bringing stability to Afghanistan once the current conflict is over could take as long as 10 years, according to a Foreign Office document outlining the objectives of the action against international terrorism.

The prediction came as Foreign Secretary Jack Straw reiterated the importance of dealing with Osama Bin Laden, saying: "He will kill again if left to himself."


Where states are unwilling to take effective action they will face a vigorous response from the wider international community

Foreign Office document
And he told MPs during a Commons debate on the current crisis that if Bin Laden ever became available for trial, he should be tried under US law for mass murder.

The foreign secretary was also formally publishing the objectives document, which says the "reconstruction" of Afghanistan could not get underway until "a secure environment" was established in the country.

It goes on to state: "But a programme of emergency relief will have to be available early.

"The cost of reconstructing Bosnia was $5bn and Afghanistan has four times Bosnia's population.

"Reconstruction of Afghanistan could take five to 10 years to complete."

Re-integration

The only way to rid the country of heroin and the domination of war lords was through "sustained international development".

The document also makes clear that changing the government of the country remains an objective so long as the Taleban continue to harbour Bin Laden.

Jack Straw
The Foreign Office indicated rebuilding Afghanistan will be a long haul

The international community could then seek to ensure that Afghanistan re-integrated as a "responsible member of the international community".

The document also re-iterates that the campaign against international terrorism would include the pursuit of terror groups across the world.

"Where states are powerless to put a stop to terrorism on their territory, assistance will have to be made available," it said.

"Where states are unwilling to take effective action they will face a vigorous response from the wider international community."

'No early conclusion'

Opening the Commons debate on Tuesday, Mr Straw said: "We can expect no early conclusion to this campaign, it will take months, not days or weeks."

Early assessment of the military action so far indicated elements of the Taleban's military capability had been "severely damaged".

The foreign secretary insisted the international community had a clear choice - "to indulge and appease bin Laden or to defeat his evil by taking effective military action".

Civilian casualties from the bombing had been light, he went on.

"You cannot avoid altogether civilian deaths and casualties... the numbers have been, happily so far, few."

Humanitarian concerns

Shadow foreign secretary Michael Ancram urged an escalation in humanitarian efforts, saying they were as important as the fight against terrorism.

It was the "greatest challenge facing the coalition" and "the measure of our own humanity in the face of the inhumanity of terrorism".

Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Menzies Campbell said it would be pointless to halt the bombing for the delivery of humanitarian aid.

"I simply do not believe that if the bombing was to stop then the Taleban would open all of the entrances to Afghanistan and wave the aid through."

Warning that the enemy would not be offering a conventional surrender, Mr Campbell said it could be some time before it was known when "a successful and terminal blow was struck."


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See also:

16 Oct 01 | UK Politics
Labour MPs call for bombing halt
16 Oct 01 | UK
Who will pay for the war?
16 Oct 01 | Europe
EU steps up war on terror funding
11 Oct 01 | UK Politics
Straw denies split with US over Iraq
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