US envoy defends Afghan war aim

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The US envoy to Afghanistan has told the BBC that western troops are needed in Afghanistan to fight people who represent “a direct threat”.

Richard Holbrooke was asked what foreign soldiers were fighting for when the recent Afghan elections were mired in corruption allegations.

He said the Taliban posed a threat to the western alliance, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

He said they wanted to “stimulate war” between countries in the region.

“Our enemy are the people of 9/11, the people who attacked the United States, the people who attacked London, who pose a direct threat to the Western alliance, to Pakistan and Afghanistan. And who do everything they can to stimulate war between countries in the region,” Richard Holbrooke told the BBC Newsnight programme.

“That is why we are there. And that strategic goal is the reason that young American and British and other nations, young men and women have been asked to risk their lives.

“I’ve been out there with the troops, what they do is extraordinary, under horribly difficult conditions.

“They know why they’re there, and I hope the people back home give them their full support because we all must remember why we are in Afghanistan,” Mr Holbrooke added.

His remarks come as the election complaints commission in Afghanistan has begun invalidating some of the votes cast in last month’s presidential election.

The commission said it was excluding votes cast at more than seventy polling stations in the south and east of Afghanistan, where it had found clear and convincing evidence of fraud.

Nearly all the votes were cast in favour of President Hamid Karzai.

The commission has also ordered recounts at a number of other polling stations.

President Karzai’s supporters say many of the complaints are politically motivated.

The investigation could take months, plunging Afghanistan into political uncertainty.

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