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U-S Envoy for Afghanistan Warns of Scattered al-Qaida Remnants - 2002-06-05


The U-S special envoy for Afghanistan says scattered al-Qaida members remain a threat to Afghanistan's fragile stability.

Speaking to reporters in Kabul today (Tuesday), U-S envoy Zalmay Khalilzad expressed particular concern about the upcoming Loya Jirga, the grand tribal council that convenes next week to choose Afghanistan's transitional government.

Mr. Khalilzad said U-S-led efforts to root out al-Qaida have been largely successful -- adding that coalition forces have been focusing on the small pockets that remain.

But he warned that Pakistan can not be a refuge for al-Qaida fighters or leaders. He said elimination of al-Qaida in Pakistan is as important as it has been in Afghanistan.

The U-S envoy acknowledged that security problems and charges of fraud mar the Loya Jirga process. But he said Washington is optimistic that it will be fair and include representatives of all Afghan ethnic groups.

Mr. Khalilzad stressed that, while the international community continues to provide military and economic help for Afghanistan, the Afghan people must chart their own political future.

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