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Powell Wants Quick End to Strikes - 2001-10-24


U-S Secretary of State Colin Powell says he would like to see U-S-led military strikes in Afghanistan end quickly.

Speaking at a State Department news conference (Wednesday), Mr. Powell said he would like to see U-S military objectives accomplished soon, noting the approach of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan that starts on November 17th, and coming winter weather in Afghanistan.

However, he would not commit to a pause in air strikes during Ramadan. Mr. Powell says the U-S administration is sensitive to Ramadan, but that military commanders -- not the religious calendar -- will decide the course of the war against terrorism.

Later at a hearing before a congressional committee, Mr. Powell ruled out a dominant role for Pakistan or any other country in a future post-war Afghanistan government. In Mr. Powell words, "It won't work if any one country dictates" what the future government looks like.

During a meeting with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Mr. Powell is quoted as saying the aim is to establish a broad-based government and help the people of Afghanistan get a better life in a post-Taleban regime.

The Taleban took control of Afghanistan's capital Kabul in 1996 and benefited from Pakistan's backing as it extended its power over Afghanistan.

Also Wednesday, President Bush reiterated that the U-S bombing in Afghanistan is not meant to harm the Afghan people, but to punish the country's leaders for refusing to turn-over suspected terrorists. President Bush says the U-S military is slowly but surely encircling the terrorists, and he vowed that this strategy will work.

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