- The Washington Times - Monday, July 8, 2002

The assassination of one of Afghanistan's vice presidents threatens the fragile central government and should compel the United States to consider an active role in providing security in the country, lawmakers said yesterday.
"This was definitely a throwback to the old Afghanistan and a setback to the establishment of the new Afghanistan," said Sen. Bob Graham, Florida Democrat and chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, on NBC's "Meet the Press."
President Bush believes U.S. training of an Afghan army to maintain control is "the best way to secure" the country, rather than using Americans in the international peacekeeping force, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said in Maine, where Mr. Bush spent the weekend.
Killed Saturday by gunmen in Kabul, the capital, was Abdul Qadir, appointed as one of five vice presidents during last month's Afghan grand council.
"I fear that we may see this government and our efforts unwind here if we don't make the appropriate investment of men and effort and resources," said Sen. Chuck Hagel, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
"If we lose there, if this goes backward, this will be a huge defeat for us symbolically in that region, in the world, for our word, confidence in Americans all over the world. We cannot allow this to go down," the Nebraska Republican said on NBC.
About 7,000 U.S. troops are in Afghanistan, including infantry, special operations air and ground troops, military police and intelligence analysts. They are hunting for al Qaeda guerrillas and weapons, and are training an Afghan army.
Turkey commands the 19-nation peacekeeping force of more than 4,500 soldiers, primarily Europeans. They have provided security in Kabul since the Taliban militia was ousted by U.S.-allied Northern Alliance forces late last year.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has asked for the force to be expanded beyond Kabul, but the United States and other countries contributing troops favor limiting its role until they can hand over responsibilities to an Afghan army.

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