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Karzai says terrorism defeated in Afghanistan

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Brussels, May 10, IRNA
The President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai assured Europeans Tuesday that the scourge of terrorism has been defeated in his country and urged Europe to continue its help and support.

''Terrorism has been defeated as a force but its residues threaten peace and prosperity of Afghanistan,'' Karzai told the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

''I am here to thank Europe for the support given to us... Europe should continue to help us,'' said Karzai in his first appearance at the EP.

He noted that parliamentary elections in Afghanistan in September will end the Bonn process, which provided for the future governance of Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban at the end of 2001.

"The end of the Bonn process must not be the end of your commitment and support to Afghanistan, but the beginning of a long-term and a more comprehensive support.''
''Success will take many, many years to come,'' said Karzai, wearing his trademark Afghan attire but speaking in English.

At the Berlin conference in spring 2004, the EU pledged 2.2 billion dollars for the reconstruction of Afghanistan for the period 2004-2006.

Afghanistan's national budget is 650 million dollars, half of the revenues will be provided by the state and the rest will come from foreign aid.

He also urged Europe to help eradicate poppy cultivation by opening its market to agricultural products of Afghanistan.

''Afghanistan has the best fruits. It can compete in international markets,'' he said.

''Drug remains obstacle to prosperity,.. there will be a considerable reduction of this poppy cultivation this year in Afghanistan,'' he said.

Karzai said Afghanistan today has an ''enlightened constitution'' guaranteeing human and women's rights.

He said the situation of women in Afghanistan has
considerably improved under his administration, noting that 27 percent of the future parliament will have women members.

Trade and commercial ties with countries like Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, China have increased, he said, citing the example of Pakistan with whom trade has grown from $50 mn to 1 $ billion within three years.

On his part, EP President Josep Borrell said very few countries have had such a turbulent history like Afghanistan's, referring to the Soviet occupation followed by the civil war and the events after 9/11.

He promised the EU's assistance for the development of the country.

On the security situation, Karzai said Afghanistan today has a trained police force of 50,000 and a 20,000-strong national army.

Afghan people, he said, have welcomed the international troops in Afghanistan.

Later during a press conference in reply to a reporter's question on foreign missionaries, Karzai said they were not welcome if they wanted to convert Muslims.

"Afghanistan is a Muslim country. Afghanistan's constitution is based on Islam. For missionaries to come to Afghanistan and try to preach and turn Afghans into other religions .. naturally no religion, no people would like that.''
Karzai will arrive in Brussels Tuesday evening for two-days of talks with European Union, Belgian and NATO officials.

::IRNA No.058 10/05/2005 17:16 --End



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