Indonesia, Bangladesh offer peacekeepers in Kabul: NY Times

Indonesia, Bangladesh offer peacekeepers in Kabul: NY Times

NEW YORK, Nov. 13 Kyodo

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said in an interview published Tuesday that Indonesia, Bangladesh and Turkey have offered forces for an international coalition to secure the Afghan capital Kabul and prepare the ground for an interim government in Afghanistan under U.N. control.

Powell excluded the deployment of Americans in this force, saying it would be better to have Muslim countries ”than one of the big-power nations coming in to do it,” the New York Times reported Tuesday.

Powell indicated that President George W. Bush and his advisers had marshaled the administration’s contingency planning around how to employ such a force with a U.S. presence until a broad-based group of Afghan leaders could be assembled to form a government.

”Things are moving much more rapidly now than we had anticipated just a week ago,” Powell was quoted as saying of the war situation in Afghanistan, adding that help from U.S. Special Forces on the ground was paying off.

Powell said a still critical factor is the Taliban’s hold on southern Afghanistan expressed frustration over the failure thus far to mobilize a rebellion or orchestrate defections of prominent local leaders in the region, where the majority Pashtuns have mostly refused to break with the Taliban, the newspaper said.

Pakistan could also do more to undermine Taliban control, Powell reportedly said.

Powell made it clear that within the Bush administration, the debate over whether to use persuasion or force in southern Afghanistan had not been resolved, the paper said, noting that accused terrorist Osama bin Laden is thought to be in hiding in the south, and the Taliban has its stronghold there, at Kandahar.

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