Afghanistan’s ‘ruthless’ enemies will not succeed: Rice

KABUL, June 28, 2006 (AFP) – US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said here Wednesday that Washington would not allow Afghanistan’s "ruthless" enemies to succeed in their battle against the government.

Rice was in Afghanistan for a short visit to push for greater cooperation in the "war on terror," including against Taliban militants whose more than five-year battle against the government appears more organised than ever.

Rice said during a press conference with President Hamid Karzai the world’s "common enemy" had changed their tactics but the international community was working together to find new strategies against them.

"Afghanistan has determined enemies, they are ruthless but they will not succeed," she said after talks with Karzai at the presidential palace.

"They are simply not going to win… we will not allow it to happen."

The extremist Taliban were toppled by a coalition led by the United States in late 2001 when they refused to hand over Al-Qaeda leaders for the September 11 attacks in the United States.

"This is a thinking enemy that is changing its tactics too. We are not going to tire, we are not going to leave," she said.

"We are making great progress, we share our views about changes that might be made or tactics or even strategies."

Rice’s visit was a show of support for Karzai, whose administration has lost standing amid frustration about the relentless violence and lack of significant change since the Taliban were toppled.

"I don’t know anyone who is more admired and respected in the international community than President Karzai for his strength, for his wisdom and for his courage," Rice said.

Rice also said she had the "greatest confidence that the democratic institutions and democratic future of Afghanistan are getting stronger and getting stronger every day."

The country had made great strides in establishing itself, including by having an elected president and parliament, and "for the first time Afghanistan has strong coalition partners," Rice said.