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U.S. Commander Meets With Afghan Governor; Weapon Caches Found

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 27, 2006 – A U.S. military commander met with an Afghan governor in northeastern Afghanistan April 23 to discuss coalition activities in the area, U.S. military officials said.

Task Force Spartan Commander Army Col. John Nicholson met with Nangarhar province Gov. Gul Agha Sherzai at the governor's residence in Jalalabad, the province's capital to discuss topics ranging from border security and poppy eradication to regional reconstruction and economic transformation, officials said.

Nicholson also had a meeting with civic leaders and mullahs April 22. The leaders shared the allies' commitment to ridding northeast Afghanistan of terrorism, officials said.

"We'll defeat the terrorists militarily, but this is only one part of the solution for Afghanistan," Nicholson said. "First, we defeat the enemy. This will help us separate the enemy from the people. Then, we help the people economically and transform the environment to encourage the long-term prosperity and security of the Afghan people."

"We have two means of fighting -- by guns and violence and by talking," Sherzai added. "We prefer to accomplish everything by talking."

The governor also discussed potentially beneficial infrastructure changes, such as improvements to Jalalabad Airfield, and he called for a greater government role in primary and secondary education, U.S. military officials said.

In other news from Afghanistan, coalition forces confiscated two weapons caches in the Pech district of Kunar province April 23 while conducting combat patrols supporting Operation Mountain Lion.

An Afghan citizen reported the first cache to coalition forces. When the patrol arrived, two elders led them to a house where the munitions were hidden in a crawl space, U.S. military officials said.

The cache included rocket-propelled grenades, RPG boosters, 60 mm mortar rounds, grenades, rockets and miscellaneous ammunition, officials reported.

A coalition patrol found a second cache in a tree. This find yielded an assault rifle with magazine, a rifle and three 30-round magazines containing ammunition. Afghan and coalition forces secured the sites and an explosive ordnance disposal team recovered the munitions.

"Recovering and disposing of these weapons increases the safety and security of Afghans and reduces the dangers posed by insurgents who use them to indiscriminately inflict harm to Afghan people, Afghan national security forces and coalition forces," said Army Lt. Col Paul Fitzpatrick, a Combined Joint Task Force 76 spokesman.

(Compiled from Combined Forces Command Afghanistan news releases.)

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