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Construction Begins on Major Afghan Highway

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2002 – Construction began last week on a major thoroughfare connecting the Afghan cities of Kabul, Kandahar and Herat, Defense Department spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said today.

The 745-mile highway was badly damaged by years of war and neglect, she told reporters in the Pentagon this morning. Mine-clearing and construction are being funded by $180 million donated by the United States, Saudi Arabia and Japan, she said, adding the U.S. share was $80 million.

"With the help of the Department of Defense, this road will be cleared of land mines and repaired," she said. "Trade and commerce can then increase between the major Afghan cities." Clarke noted the United States has already repaired more than 2,300 miles of roads as part of the $835 million in assistance it delivered to Afghanistan in the last year.

She also showed several images from military humanitarian assistance projects ongoing in Afghanistan, including a minute-long video clip of Afghan men near Bagram, outside Kabul, bringing children to be treated by American and South Korean medical personnel.

Clarke showed several photos depicting similar scenes and other humanitarian efforts. One photo showed a 9th Psychological Operations Battalion soldier from Fort Bragg, N.C., teaching a crowd from the village of Najab how to count in English. Another showed an American military veterinary technician treating a goat.

"Veterinary personnel from the U.S. military and others are helping a lot of people over there with their livestock," she said. "The sheep and goats are a very important part of the local economies, and we're doing everything we can to help them on that front."

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Related Sites:
DoD News Transcript: DoD News Briefing - ASD(PA) Clarke and Adm. Gove, Nov. 20, 2002

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