Afghan Envoy Cautions U.S. Against Bin Laden-Spurred Withdrawal of Troops

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By Viola Gienger - May 8, 2011 12:00 AM ET

Afghanistan’s ambassador to the U.S. cautioned against a hasty American withdrawal from the region now that Osama bin Laden has been killed, saying his death doesn’t eliminate the threat from al-Qaeda.

“Underneath him is a very complicated and complex network that needs to be dealt with,” Ambassador Eklil Ahmad Hakimi said in an interview in Washington May 6. “So concluding that the job is done is something that we should be very cautious about.”
Hakimi also expressed hope that the proof of bin Laden’s presence in neighboring Pakistan for years would spur that country’s leaders to accelerate cooperation on helping forge a peace deal to end the war. The U.S. and Afghanistan are seeking to persuade Pakistan to pressure Afghan militant leaders holed up on their turf to enter peace negotiations. The Taliban also may rethink their reluctance to enter negotiations, Hakimi said.

The successful U.S. military raid on the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where bin Laden was hiding was “one of the great steps in the war against terror,” especially for the families of those killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and in the war in Afghanistan that resulted from it, Hakimi said.

Still, the death of the al-Qaeda leader is more of a symbolic victory, he said. Hakimi cited President Barack Obama’s stated goal to disrupt, defeat and dismantle the al-Qaeda network as a whole, saying: “The network is there still.”

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