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Powell: Better If Afghan Campaign Ends Before Winter - 2001-10-21


U-S Secretary of State Colin Powell says the United States hopes to resolve the situation in Afghanistan before the start of winter there.

In a television interview Sunday, Mr. Powell said winter weather would make the U-S-led military operation more difficult. Snow usually begins to accumulate in much of Afghanistan by mid-November.

Mr. Powell said the Afghan opposition is on the march and gathering strength against Afghanistan's Taleban government. He said the days of the Taleban are numbered, and, in Mr. Powell's words, "We have to start looking toward the future."

The secretary of state said his aides are working with the United Nations, and other key nations with an interest in the area, to see what kind of arrangement can be worked out for the post-Taleban era.

Meanwhile, U-S officials are emphasizing that the American people need to be patient and understand that the war on terrorism could take a long time.

Mr. Powell also said a U-S decision on whether to cease operations during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan depends on the military situation. He said Washington needs to be respectful of Ramadan -- which begins on November 17th -- but must also pursue its military campaign.

Mr. Powell said any post-Taleban government should reflect all parts of Afghan society. He said the Northern Alliance could be an important part of such a government, but not the dominant part.

The secretary of state also said no member of the international coalition against terrorism is hindering the U-S military campaign in Afghanistan. He said holding together a coalition in the multi-faceted war on terrorism is necessary.

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