US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has been visiting Afghanistan as part of a whistle-stop tour of central Asia aimed at boosting Washington’s influence in the region.During talks with Afghan president Hamid Karzai, she reiterated Washington’s commitment to his country after the US-led war against the Taliban regime. “You can count, Mr President, on our continuing friendship, our longterm partnership, a relationship in terms of security cooperation and the fight to bring peace and stability to this region that will be enduring.” Both sides pledged help and assistance to neighbouring Pakistan following the devastating earthquake there. “I’d like to make also an appeal to all of us, to the Afghan people and to the international community,” said Hamid Karzai. “Just as we are overtaken with sorrow, our hands should be extended with the maximum help that all of us can afford.” After Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan, Rice will be travelling to Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Pakistan, one of Washington’s main allies in its war on terror. Just hours ahead of her arrival in the Afghan capital Kabul this morning, a rocket exploded outside the residence of the Canadian embassy, wounding a guard. It is the latest attack in a spate of violence mostly in the south and the east of the country in which dozens of people have been killed.