- The Washington Times - Monday, January 28, 2002

Afghanistan leader Hamid Karzai appealed to thousands of young Afghan-Americans yesterday to return to their homeland and apply their skills to rebuilding the war-ravaged country.
"Without your cooperation, we're not going to make it," Mr. Karzai told an enthusiastic audience that jammed into a basketball arena at Georgetown University.
"You are the future of our country," Mr. Karzai said, speaking alternatively in two of Afghanistan's main languages.
"Study hard, work hard, make money and bring it to Afghanistan," he added, drawing laughter from the crowd.
Mr. Karzai spoke for 45 minutes and then answered questions for an additional 30 minutes, delivering a message that was uniformly upbeat about Afghanistan's future.
He alluded to a conference of donor nations last week in Tokyo which pledged $4.5 billion to Afghanistan over five years.
"Our responsibility is starting," he said. "We have to say to these people (the donors) that we are going to deliver also."
Mr. Karzai, whose remarks were translated into English by associates, made no reference to the United States or the U.S. role in making his rise to power a month ago possible.
Afghan officials said he was expected to touch on that and other issues today when calls on President Bush at the White House to seek a continuing U.S. commitment to help restore the peace in his country.
Mr. Karzai arrived here yesterday afternoon, the first Afghan leader to visit Washington in 39 years.
Before leaving for the United States, Mr. Karzai told Afghan television that he would use the trip to push for the expansion of a multinational peacekeeping force into the rest of Afghanistan.
Afghan officials believe troops are needed in the countryside to deal with regional warlords and armed gangs. They also have indicated they want American troops to participate.
"This is the determination of the Afghan people," Mr. Karzai said.
The Bush administration has resisted U.S. involvement in the 2,500-person British-led international security assistance force operating in Kabul. Thousands more troops are expected.
Mr. Karzai, 44, attended a prayer service at a mosque in suburban Virginia in the afternoon, bringing several hundred Afghan-Americans up to date on the situation in Afghanistan.
The predominantly male audience applauded frequently during his 25-minute presentation.
No translation was provided for the afternoon remarks.
The Bush administration is undecided on how long U.S. troops, currently numbering about 4,000, should remain in Afghanistan.
Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah said in an interview Friday he believes U.S. and international forces should remain in Afghanistan beyond the six-month life of the interim government.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said last week that American troops will remain in Afghanistan at least until the summer. The interim government steps down in June and will be replaced by a government selected by a national council.
The American military focus in Afghanistan has been on hunting down remnants of the Taliban regime that was deposed in November and the al-Qaida terrorist group, headed by Osama bin Laden.
Vice President Richard B. Cheney said yesterday he believes bin Laden, blamed for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, is still alive.
"We haven't seen him, obviously, in the flesh recently, and he's been very quiet," Mr. Cheney told "Fox News Sunday." "He hasn't released any videos or made any public pronouncements. But I think, if he were dead, there'd be more indications of it than we've seen."
In addition to security issues, Mr. Bush and Mr. Karzai are expected to discuss rebuilding Afghanistan, and political issues such as the role of women in Afghan civic institutions, a U.S. official said.
Mr. Karzai will be a guest of honor tomorrow when President Bush delivers the State of the Union address.

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