|VOICE OF AMERICA|
SLUG: 2-326115 Italy / Afghanistan (L-only)
TITLE=ITALY / AFGHANISTAN (L-ONLY)
HEADLINE: Afghan Leader Urging Continued International Support
INTRO: Afghan President Hamid Karzai, visiting Europe to secure continuing support for his country, says the help is needed if Afghanistan is to continue to reverse the extremism and terrorism that gripped his country during the Taleban regime. Mr. Karzai spoke in Rome on Friday and Sabina Castelfranco has this report for VOA from the Italian capital.
TEXT: Mr. Karzai said terrorism, like the Taleban movement in his country, is a product of negligence. He said Afghanistan was abandoned to its fate after the Soviet army withdrew and extremism flourished.
But the Afghan leader stressed that the Taleban has no possibility of returning to power now. He said the disarmament process in his country has gone very well. The first phase was completed some weeks ago and almost 95 percent of the heavy weapons have been collected.
Afghanistan is now preparing for parliamentary elections, to be held on September 18th. But the president, in a message to those who have supported Afghanistan, said that the elections are only a first step.
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"Afganistan will continue to need support from the international community for a number of years onwards. September will only be the end of one phase, the phase of having completed the laying of foundations."
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Mr. Karzai said if Afghanistan is going to grow beyond the foundation stage, continued help from the international community is crucial to that growth.
Mr. Karzai who is on a two-day visit to Rome, arrived from London. His trip in Europe is focused on Afghanistan's economic development. But soon after arriving in Rome, he condemned Thursday's attacks in the British capital as "ferocious." He cautioned however that the tendency to associate terrorism with Islam is wrong.
Mr. Karzai said the people who carried out the attacks in London, Madrid and New York are the same who are killing the most innocent and the most devout of the Muslim world. He said they are the same people who are killing clergy and children in Afghanistan and burning schools.
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"They don't belong to our religion or to any part of us. They belong to their own cult. It's a cult. It's merchants of death. It is their trade. It is their way to do that. They have no other way of life. This is a way of life."
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In his speech Friday, he said the world must unite in order to combat terrorism, closing off terrorists' access to money and training, and he added
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"While attacking the other causes of terrorism, we must also seek assistance from governments not to use extremism as an instrument of state policy, or as an instrument of foreign policy."
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Mr. Karzai was speaking Friday at a conference titled "Afghanistan in the World," organized by the Italian Institute for Africa and the East. (Signed)
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