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Words in the News
Monday 11 February 2002
Vocabulary from the news. Listen to and read the report then find explanations of difficult words below.

  Afghanistan tanks
Afghan defence minister visits Moscow
Summary: The interim Afghan defence minister, General Fahim, is in Moscow for five days of talks. He's due to meet Russian foreign ministry officials and also hold talks with representatives of the Russian arms industry. This report from Kate Clark:
The News Listen  
  General Fahim's links with Russia are close and go back a long way. For many years, it was the main supporter of his armed faction. Now, he's back in Moscow as the interim Afghan defence minister, according to Russian sources, with the aim of signing contracts to buy military hardware and potentially to get help in forming a new national army.

It's not clear why the cash-strapped Afghan interim government should be seeking more arms: Afghanistan is already awash with weapons. Over the last few months, Russia and America sent in shipments to help in the fight against the Taleban and al-Qaeda. But over the last twenty years of war, Russia, the US, Pakistan, Iran and China have all armed rival factions.

Disarmament is not yet on the political agenda. It was deemed too sensitive to put into the peace accord signed in Bonn in December. But the creation of a national Afghan army is planned and seen by most people here as essential if there is to be an end to the power of the armed factions.

So far, General Fahim has appointed commanders from his own faction to almost all the key defence ministry positions. Rank and file soldiers also tend to have factional loyalties to him. Moscow could benefit from its close relationship with General Fahim. But most Afghans are extremely wary of any Russian influence, given their bloody ten-year occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Kate Clark, BBC, Kabul

The Words Listen
  go back a long way
have existed for a long time

an organized group within a larger group

in need of money

  awash with weapons
has too many weapons

  on the political agenda
a matter for discussion between governments


given a job

  rank and file


because of, on account of

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