But Karzai's interim administration, which took office on Dec. 22, is badly strapped for cash. Earlier this week, the U.N. special envoy for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, issued an urgent appeal for $100 million, which he said was immediately needed to enable the interim government to administer the country.
During his Kabul briefing, Powell acknowledged the pressing need for funds. "They frankly need operating cash to pay salaries, to pay for telephone services, to bring office supplies...the very basic essentials one needs to put an administration, a government in place," he said.
Most government employees have not been paid in months.
But he said details of Washington's contribution would be worked out when international donors meet in Tokyo next week for a conference on the reconstruction of Afghanistan.
Powell's visit to the region comes amid heightened tensions between India and Pakistan over the disputed Kashmir region. On Friday, he will meet with Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in an attempt to help defuse the crisis. India wants Pakistan to crack down on militant groups on its soil, and U.S. officials have tried to persuade Indian officials to recognize Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's recent attempts to combat the groups.
Al Qaeda Suspects Charged in Britain
In other developments:
Two men of Algerian origin were charged with involvement in the al Qaeda network and remanded in custody in a British court today. Brahim Benmerzouga and Baghdad Meziane were arrested in Britain in September. Their charges included the financing of terrorism and possession of inflammatory material. See Story.
Three U.S. Marines were injured in southern Afghanistan when an unknown item exploded as they were burning trash near their base in Kandahar. Military officials said their injuries are not life-threatening and the soldiers were transported to a medical facility for treatment.
The United States is preparing to transfer approximately 90 detainees of Pakistani origin currently being held in Kandahar to the custody of the Pakistani government.