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Afghan Praises U.S. Aid

The Orlando Sentinel


JACKSONVILLE -- Afghanistan has made strides against terrorism but is at a "serious crossroads," yearning to rejoin the family of nations, the country's ambassador to the United States said at the University of North Florida.

"We are so grateful for the United States in helping us defend freedom," Said Jawad, a former exile who returned to work for his homeland four months after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, said Monday. "Now we want to stand on our own two feet as quickly as we can, and not be a burden to the international community."

Though the Taliban government was ousted shortly after 9-11, Taliban sympathizers, tribal militias and warlords continue to terrorize much of the country, he said, adding that terrorists have recently begun using suicide bombing as a "new and horrifying" weapon.

The most critical challenge for his country is one of adequate security. For many Afghans, the ambassador said, it's a matter of tough choices.

"They must choose between life or death," he said. "So they choose life, even if it involves something illegal. But if we give them a choice that includes sacrifice and a dignified life, they will choose dignity. Right now, they are just surviving."

Compiled from wire reports

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