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Annan Calls For Expansion Of Security Force In Afghanistan - 2002-07-17


U-N Secretary General Kofi Annan is calling for the expansion of the international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan, saying security in the country is "a cause for concern."

In a report to the United Nations today (Wednesday), Secretary Annan said the International Security Assistance Force should have its mandate expanded from beyond the Afghan capital, Kabul.

In the report, Mr. Annan says though al-Qaida and the ousted Taleban government have been significantly weakened, remnants of the groups still exist.

He also says warlords and other armed factions continue to threaten peace and a civil government.

Mr. Annan warns that without improvements to security, reconstruction and political progress could be seriously undermined.

Meanwhile, international peacekeepers in Kabul said they will help collect evidence and interview witnesses during the investigation into the assassination of Afghan Vice President Abdul Qadir.

On Tuesday, Karim Khalili, who is also a vice president, said the commission looking into the assassination is not ruling out al-Qaida involvement, but adds all possibilities are being investigated.

He said 15 people are currently in custody -- including 10 of Mr. Qadir's former bodyguards.

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