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Afghan FM Denies Strain in US Relations

(PRAGUE, Czech Republic) In a wide-ranging interview with RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan, Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta insisted that relations with the new U.S. administration of President Barack Obama are not strained. He also discussed what Kabul expects from veteran diplomat Richard Holbrooke, who has been tapped as US special envoy to South Asia, and answered questions on military cooperation with the US and the political future of the Karzai government [read the full interview].

With the Czechs holding the EU presidency, Spanta is in Prague for a series of meetings with European leaders. During a visit to RFE/RL’s Prague headquarters, Spanta told Radio Free Afghanistan journalists that their work “plays a very important role in the development of democracy and the protection of human rights and freedom of speech in Afghanistan.”

“People trust you and rely on your news and information,” he said. “You have more listeners in Afghanistan than any other radio station.”

About RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan
The U.S. Congress appropriated funding for broadcasting to Afghanistan in December 2001 as part of an effort to build a peaceful and democratic country, following the U.S.-led ouster of the Taliban regime. Radio Free Afghanistan has since built a substantial audience in Afghanistan, with surveys showing it as the most popular radio station in the country.