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Laura Bush on Afghan visit urges support

Laura Bush on Afghan visit urges support

U.S. first lady Laura Bush made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan yesterday with an appeal to the international community not to abandon the war-torn country in the face of resurgent Taliban violence.
She arrived under tight security for an 8-1/2-hour trip to a country her husband, U.S. President George W. Bush, has declared a main front in the battle against Islamist militants.
Mrs. Bush said her visit was a chance to showcase "hopeful signs" of reconstruction and improved women's rights since U.S.-led and Afghan forces ousted the hardline Taliban government more than six years ago. Another major thrust of her mission was to shore up the international commitment to the country as Afghan, U.S. and NATO forces struggle to contain a Taliban guerrilla war.
"We don't need to be intimidated by them," Mrs. Bush, making her third visit to Afghanistan, told reporters on her plane heading for Kabul. "The international community can't drop Afghanistan now at this very crucial time."
It was important Afghans understood "the rest of the world is with you and that we're not going to leave you right now when the Taliban and al Qaeda is trying to intimidate you," she said.
After a brief stop in Kabul, Mrs. Bush boarded a helicopter to the central town of Bamiyan, where in 2001 the Taliban blew up two ancient giant statues of Buddha carved into a mountainside.
In the shadow of the now empty caves where the Buddhas once stood, Mrs. Bush was met by New Zealand troops who performed the traditional Maori haka dance, thrusting spears, and poking out tongues as U.S. bodyguards looked on slightly nervously.
The New Zealand troops in Bamiyan form one of 26 Provincial Reconstruction Teams across the country, units aimed at bringing aid and development meant to undercut the insurgency.


Updated : 2021-05-17 17:57 GMT+08:00