Washington The United States on Saturday tightened its noose around the Taliban regime in Afghanistan Saturday, laying the groundwork for a massive international effort to rebuild the battle-scarred nation after the fighting stops.
Planning for the reconstruction effort, which senior officials outlined to Knight Ridder on Saturday, is still in its early stages. However, the officials said, it's likely to include a United Nations peacekeeping force supplied by other Muslim nations, a major humanitarian de-mining effort and a multibillion-dollar program to revive the Afghan economy, rebuild schools, repair roads and bridges and improve health care.
Like other elements of the complex U.S. strategy for the war against terrorism, the plan for a U.N.-led Afghan reconstruction campaign is intended to reassure Muslims that America's only targets are terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and his supporters and to convince the Afghan people that they would be better served by different leaders.
Senior officials said that while the United States is prepared to take the lead in financing a U.N. reconstruction effort, Washington wants no role in determining how the Afghans govern themselves once bin Laden and his Taliban protectors are defeated. However, one official suggested that restoring educational and job opportunities for women in Afghanistan, which the Taliban have eliminated, might be part of the effort.
Bush, who approved $320 million in emergency humanitarian aid for Afghan refugees on Thursday, urged Congress in his weekly radio address Saturday to finance the reconstruction effort, but he offered no details.