Tulsa World: Inhofe back from Afghan trip

Tulsa World

Inhofe back from Afghan trip

By: JIM MYERS World Washington Bureau

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe said Monday that Afghanistan must work to create trust and credibility with its people and establish governance at local and regional levels.

Returning from a trip to Afghanistan and countries in Africa, the Oklahoma Republican also commented on the situation in Pakistan.

"While improvements in governance have been made in the Afghan provinces along the Pakistan/Afghanistan border, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in Pakistan remain a concern,'' he said.

To guard against a common threat posed by the Taliban, Inhofe said, increased cooperation between the international forces, the Afghan army and the Pakistani military will be needed.

Still, Inhofe, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, questioned reports regarding the Taliban's status in Afghanistan.

"Despite their efforts to establish regional shadow governments and courts in the southern region and contrary to recent press reports, Taliban influence has not increased,'' he said.

"Their efforts for the most part have been ineffective and incoherent.''

According to a new report by an international think tank, however, the Taliban now holds a permanent presence in 72 percent of Afghanistan, compared with 54 percent a year ago.

The International Council on Security and Development also warned that the Taliban is "closing a noose'' around Kabul.

Three out of four main highways into Kabul are now compromised by the Taliban, the council's report stated.