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First Lady Makes Short Kabul Visit

From Associated Press

Under heavy protection in this dusty capital, First Lady Laura Bush on Wednesday talked with Afghan women freed from Taliban repression and met with President Hamid Karzai.

There were reminders of war at every turn. U.S. soldiers manned M-60 machine guns at both ends of four transport helicopters that flew Bush and her entourage to events in Kabul. Apache attack helicopters shadowed the aircraft.

Bush spent just six hours in Kabul after flying nearly halfway around the world.

The first lady, a former teacher, met with women who are training to be teachers and gave gifts to Afghan children on the street. She thanked U.S. troops for bringing down a regime that kept girls from school.

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“Democracy is more than just elections,” Bush said at a teacher training institute. “The survival of a free society ultimately depends on the participation of all its citizens, both men and women.”

Karzai said the first lady’s visit “matters much more than hundreds of millions of dollars, much more.” Yet the fragile democracy is dependent on aid, and Bush said she was asked for help to pay for scholarships, computers and books.

Bush dined with troops at a mess hall at Bagram air base.


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