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Afghan envoy stresses need for U.S. aid

He notes woes involving deaths, infrastructure

Published: Thursday, May 20 2004 12:00 a.m. MDT

OREM — Afghanistan will need more aid from American organizations to ensure future stability, says that country's ambassador to the United Nations.

Ambassador Ravan Farhadi, who spoke Wednesday at Utah Valley State College, said the United States has yet to compensate Afghans for the civilians killed in bombing raids during the war on terror.

"Non-combatant, non-military people died, about 5,000 or so, including children, because of the military action of the United States," he said. "Nothing has been done to compensate their families."

He has not sought aid from the U.S. Department of Defense but rather hopes a new, non-governmental organization might be created to step up to the challenge.

"Maybe the Department of Defense wouldn't be able to be directly helpful, but I think it's very easy for the United States to create a kind of non-governmental organization which could provide assistance not directly linked to the DOD but could assist the non-combatant victims of the U.S. Army's bombing," Farhadi said.

He thinks the United States could improve relations with the Islamic world by providing money to the families of those killed.

"It would have a great psychological, political and economic impact on the Islamic world," the ambassador said. "The Islamic world would like to have good news of the behavior of the American army with the Muslim people."

Farhadi said POWs in Afghanistan weren't treated well but weren't abused like Iraqi prisoners. "I can say that Afghans like Americans, despite their behavior to some POWs," he said.

The ambassador also emphasized that the fighting in Iraq is far different from what occurred in Afghanistan.

"It was completely different from Iraq, because we had our own forces, resistance forces that went into the capital and removed the Taliban," he said. "And we had no need of American Army involvement on land. But after the Taliban went into the mountains, then the American Army was involved."

Farhadi said the United States should have aided resistance forces sooner.

"We were fighting for five years before the Americans would help us," he said. "We (the Islamic State of Afghanistan) were recognized by the United Nations, not the Taliban. There was no assistance from the American side in our fight against the Taliban and al-Qaida. Both the Bush and Clinton administrations refused to help us. We were asking them. The U.S. didn't see them as a big enough threat."

While Farhadi is pleased that the United States is helping to reconstruct the Afghan infrastructure, he says much more help is needed to stabilize the region.

"Before Afghanistan can control its own security, we need help in building roads, hospitals and schools," he said. "If everything goes well and the United States helps, it will be a matter of five years."


E-mail: mdecker@desnews.com

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