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U.S. Ambassador Says Drug Trafficking is a Threat to Afghanistan

The Taleban can sustain itself through cooperation with the drug trafficking, criminal, and corrrupt community in Afghanistan

Washington, D.C., June 26, 2007 - Ambassador William Wood, the new U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, told the Voice of America (VOA) in an exclusive interview today that "as long as the Taleban can continue to sustain itself from outside the country, and as long as it meets with some level of cooperation among the drug trafficking, criminal, and corrupt community inside Afghanistan, it will continue to be a threat."

During the interview, Ambassador Wood acknowledged that the Taleban has long been a threat to the stability of Afghanistan, but that it is "getting weaker every day." He added that, "if the Taleban were the only threat facing Afghanistan, I believe we could put Afghanistan in the win column right now."

When asked about the continuing concern over civilian casualties, Ambassador Wood told VOA that "we have been and continue to work closely with the government of Afghanistan to avoid civilian casualties." He added, however, that the Taleban often tries to divide the Afghan government from the Coalition by targeting civilians and including them in their operations.

The Ambassador is confident that the Coalition can accelerate the rate of improvement in the Afghan army and police and emphasized that Coalition forces are working closely with both the army and police.

VOA's Afghan Service broadcasts TV Ashna in Dari and Pashto to Afghanistan from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. daily on National Afghan TV and by satellite on Asiasat Channel 24 and for Europe on IOR Channel 409. VOA broadcasts 12 hours combined of Dari and Pashto programming daily on radio.

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 115 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages.

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