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01/29/07 - Afghanistan

House speaker Pelosi visits Afghanistan

U.S. House speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai Sunday. U.S. House speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai Sunday.

New U.S. House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi met senior Afghan leaders Sunday, days after Washington announced a major boost in troops and money to bring peace after the bloodiest year since the Taliban's ouster in 2001.

Pelosi, leading a seven-member congressional delegation, met President Hamid Karzai in Kabul, as well as other officials and U.S. military commanders.

In a joint statement, the delegation said they assessed the war and reconstruction effort with Karzai.

"In our discussions, President Karzai stressed the crucial importance of reconstruction. The delegation commended him for his leadership and discussed additional steps that would enhance the authority of the central government and improve the security situation in the country," the statement said.

The U.S. lawmakers said they would quickly consider a Bush administration proposal to increase aid to Afghanistan to help Karzai's government combat the renewed Taliban insurgency.

Pelosi led the House delegation on a visit to South Asia that included Pakistan, which Afghanistan accuses of supporting a resurgent Taliban. Islamabad denies the charges.

Last year was the bloodiest since the hardline Islamist Taliban government was ousted in 2001 -- more than 4,000 people died -- and U.S., NATO and Taliban commanders say the coming spring will see a bloody and dangerous offensive within months.

The Pelosi-led delegation's visit comes amid concerns over a provision in a U.S. bill limiting military aid to Islamabad.

The bill, already endorsed by the House of Representatives, calls for ending U.S. military assistance to Pakistan if the country fails to stop the Taliban operating from its territory.

Washington last week announced $10.6 billion in new spending in Afghanistan for security and reconstruction and extended tours of duty.

Story courtesy of CNN Newsource.

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