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Al-Qaida Fighters Continue to Operate in Afghanistan, says Foreign Minister - 2002-08-28


Afghanistan's Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah says terrorist bases in his country have been destroyed, but al-Qaida-led fighters continue to operate. The Afghan diplomat made the remarks at the end of a two-day visit to neighboring Pakistan where he has been seeking cooperation in tracking down suspected terrorists.

Visiting Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah says the international war against terrorism is a long campaign, and more joint efforts are needed in this fight.

Speaking to reporters in Islamabad, Mr. Abdullah told reporters that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf assured him Afghanistan has his full support in eliminating terrorism from the region. "We all agree that terrorism is not eradicated or eliminated," he said. "Their bases in Afghanistan have been destroyed, but they are not being eradicated from the region or even from Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, it still continues to be one of our priorities to focus on the pursuit of al-Qaida leaders and Taleban leaders. But I think that effort is a joint effort."

Mr. Abdullah says he hopes Pakistan and Afghanistan can establish some sort of formal mechanism for cooperation between their security forces to better deal with the threat from terrorists.

Senior Afghan leaders have repeatedly said they suspect that the top al-Qaida terrorist, Osama bin Laden, and many of his colleagues are hiding in Pakistan. They are believed to have fled to escape the U.S.-led military assaults on terrorist bases in Afghanistan that launched last year after the United States was attacked.

Pakistani authorities have rounded up as many as 300 suspected al-Qaida militants in the past year. Many of them have been handed over to the United States.

General Tommy Franks, commander of American military operations in Afghanistan, has said he thinks the anti-terror war now needs start shifting focus to countries bordering Afghanistan.

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