- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 15, 2009

OUTRAGEOUS RUMORS

The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan on Wednesday denounced as “outrageous and baseless” charges that American troops are supplying weapons to the same Taliban terrorists they are fighting.

“I hear rumors and read in the press that the United States is secretly helping the enemies of Afghanistan with weapons and helicopters and other support,” Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry said in a speech to the Afghan parliament at a memorial service for Afghan troops killed in the war against the Taliban and its al Qaeda allies.

“These allegations are outrageous and baseless,” he said. “We would never aid the terrorists that attacked us on Sept. 11, that are killing our soldiers, your soldiers and innocent Afghan civilians every day.”

The United States in 2001 overthrew the brutal Taliban regime for sheltering Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network that planned the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Mr. Eikenberry offered no further details on the rumors he condemned.

The ambassador, a retired Army lieutenant general who served two tours in Afghanistan, said the United States shares the “same grief and loss” felt by families and comrades of the fallen Afghan soldiers.

“I have served in uniform twice in Afghanistan, commanding troops who fought against your enemies, commanding troops who suffered injuries and lost their lives fighting side by side with you,” he said.

“On behalf of the American people,” he added, “we are grateful beyond words for the actions of the men and women we honor today.”

Mr. Eikenberry also sought to reassure Afghans about the commitment of President Obama, as he reviews U.S. policy toward Afghanistan after U.S. commander Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal urgently requested tens of thousands more troops.

“You have a coalition of 46 nations standing with you, fighting the extremists and insurgents who want to keep Afghanistan living in fear,” he said.

“The United States is absolutely committed to defeating them and helping the Afghan people live the lives they deserve in a safe Afghanistan with a government that provides the opportunity of education, health, economic livelihood and the freedom of choice and expression that all people deserve.”

Meanwhile in neighboring Pakistan, the U.S. consul-general in Karachi urged the Pakistani government to take quick action against Taliban targets in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province along the Afghan border.

“They have their existence in Quetta, and the government of Pakistan should root them out from here,” Stephen G. Fakan said at a news conference.

TOP HAT AND CARRIAGE

Foreign ambassadors in London enjoy some of the best ceremonial duties of any diplomat posted anywhere else in the world.

One of their most public rituals is the presentation of their diplomatic credentials to Queen Elizabeth II.

As per custom, U.S. Ambassador Louis B. Susman on Tuesday donned a black top hat and cutaway coat and, with his wife, Marjorie, boarded an open horse-drawn carriage to ride through tree-lined London streets to Buckingham Palace. They were accompanied by three U.S. Embassy aides.

Mr. Susman, a top fundraiser for President Obama’s election campaign last year, is the 70th U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. His more formal title is ambassador to the Court of St. James.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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