updated 4/1/2004 9:49:05 AM ET 2004-04-01T14:49:05

Secretary of State Colin Powell warned on Thursday that warlords and criminal elements threaten to undermine the freshly bolstered reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.

In a closed meeting with ministers at a donors conference in Berlin, Powell said threats to peace in Afghanistan come from many directions, and that the United States remained committed to countering instability with coalition forces.

“There is no place in the new Afghanistan for private armies or sectarian violence,” Powell said in a statement distributed to reporters traveling with him before his departure for Brussels.

There, Powell was holding talks with NATO leaders on improving peacekeeping measures in Iraq. Foreign terrorists and remnants of the Saddam Hussein government continue to plague preparations for the country’s transition to self-rule on July 1. Hundreds of U.S. troops and civilians have been killed.

The donors pledged $4.2 billion in grants and loans to Afghanistan. The United States committed itself to more than half of the total, $2.3 billion.

Additionally, Powell said, $123 million would be used to counter narcotics traffic.

“If we do not take aggressive action today to end the scourge of drugs in Afghanistan tomorrow may be too late,” he said.

“The United States is prepared to supply forces for these operations until Afghanistan is able to provide for its own security,” he said.

Security threats
Powell focused primarily, though, on the violence against President Hamid Karzai’s government. While the country is being rebuilt, he said, “all of us recognize that these remarkable achievements can be undermined if security is not preserved.”

The security threats come from many directions, he said, including remnants of the Taliban that ruled Afghanistan until U.S. forces overthrew it two years ago.

Warlords, he said, have no place in the new Afghanistan, and private armies must be disbanded.

“We must give full support to the government of Afghanistan’s disarmament, demobilization and reintegration efforts,” he said.

In Iraq, the Bush administration is weighing roles for NATO but has not decided which of several options to support, State Department officials said this week.

The ideas Powell will discuss with the ministers range from taking over command of a multinational division to training peacekeeping and Iraqi forces to improve security in the country.

Seventeen of the 26 NAT0 members already are playing a military role, but the Bush administration would like more of them to pitch in.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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