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McKinley visits Afghanistan

WASHINGTON, D.C. — West Virginia’s First District Congressman David McKinley (R-WV) said a recent trip to Afghanistan reinforced his belief that some outside military presence, including forces from the United States, is needed in that country beyond the end of this year.

“We’re talking about a very limited number of advisers,” said McKinley on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”  “They will not be engaged in military conflict.  They will not be armed, but there is some intelligence that we can offer by having them there as advisers.”

McKinley was in Afghanistan for five days, earlier this month, as part of a Congressional delegation that included members of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee.

“From what I can understand, it’s a radically improved situation,” McKinley said of what he saw during his trip.  “But it is stark, poverty is rampant.  Their infrastructure is virtually non-existent.”

Up to now, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement.  Without it, thousands of foreign forces will have to be out of Afghanistan by Dec. 31.

Soon, though, that decision will not be up to Karzai.  Election Day is set for Apr. 5 in Afghanistan and Karzai is banned from seeking a third term.  “If this election can come off and is successfully accepted by the public and the international community as being a legitimate Presidential election, the nation of Afghanistan will have some stature,” said McKinley.

How the election goes will depend on the Taliban which has vowed to use force to disrupt the vote.

On Tuesday, at least five people, including two police officers and two election workers, were killed when militants stormed an election commission office in Kabul.  Afghan security forces killed the militants following a reported five hour gun battle.

Kabul was just one of the cities McKinley visited.

“There are two things that are holding them back,” he said of the Afghan people.  “One is they don’t have enough electricity.  They have no power and, secondly, is there’s just a very uneducated group to do anything like this (improve infrastructure).  They also don’t have a rule of law.”

McKinley’s trip to Afghanistan was his second international trip so far this year.  In February, he traveled to Israel as part of a Congressional fact-finding mission.

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