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New war on terror networks urged

Afghanistan's foreign minister has warned the US, Nato and their allies that they must look beyond his country and work to dismantle international militant networks if they wanted to win the war on terror.

Zalmai Rassoul told the annual ministerial meeting of the United Nations General Assembly that those groups were expanding their operations and attacks in the region.

He said that as long as some government and non-government "actors" - which he did not identify - provided al Qaida and its affiliates with sanctuary, arms and financing they would remain "formidable and murderous adversaries".

Mr Rassoul recalled that the UN declared a global war on terror in October 2001, just after the September 11 terrorist attacks against the US, and lamented that as the ninth anniversary of the declaration approached, "the international community's promise to the people of Afghanistan of a life free from the fear of the threat and exploitation of international terrorism remains unfulfilled".

He said Afghans "continue to suffer from horrific acts of terrorist violence on a daily basis" and Afghanistan had stressed repeatedly "that terrorism and the ideologies of extremism and radicalism are spawned beyond the borders of Afghanistan".

"The audacity and geographic scope of extremist and terrorist groups harboured in our region continues to expand," Mr Rassoul said. "If our international partners and allies wish to win the global war on terrorism, they must look beyond villages in Afghanistan and engage in a strategy that will effectively and decisively dismantle organisations and networks that continue - with immunity - to support terrorist and radical militants."

The Taliban has been stepping up its attacks as Afghan and foreign troops ramp up their pressure on the insurgents.

US and Nato troops are pushing into the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, seen as key to the Obama administration's strategy to turn around the nine-year war, while the insurgents are trying to undermine the ability of the Afghan government to rule much of the country.

Mr Rassoul stressed that "terrorism remains a global challenge which can be defeated only through a concerted international effort". And he said Afghanistan was committed to expanding counter-terrorism cooperation with Pakistan and other countries in the region.

The minister also pledged to work closely with the country's neighbours and other international partners to win the war on drugs. "Insidious dangers of extremism and terrorism and their ever-increasing link with narcotics pose a serious threat to the security and stability of our country and region," he said.

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