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SLUG: 2-322081 Afghanistan/Iraq Elections (L-O)
TITLE=AFGHANISTAN/IRAQ ELECTIONS (L-O)
HEADLINE: Afghan President Urges Iraqis to Vote
INTRO: As Iraq prepares to hold national elections, Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, is urging Iraqis to go out and vote in large numbers, in order to prove they are masters of their own country. VOA's Michael Kitchen reports from Islamabad.
TEXT: Speaking to reporters Friday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on Iraqis to follow his country's example and brave possible violence in order to cast their votes.
Afghanistan held its first-ever presidential election last October, which proved mostly peaceful despite fears of large-scale attacks by anti-government insurgents.
President Karzai said that by holding a successful election, Afghanistan was able to discredit militants opposed to the democratic process.
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"This is the defeat of all those who did not want Afghanistan to live in a prosperous, peaceful environment."
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While Iraq is currently facing much wider-scale violence than Afghanistan did before its election, Mr. Karzai said the election is a necessary risk in order to pull the country out of its post-war chaos.
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"Going to the elections is the only way for our brothers and sisters in Iraq to have a government of their choice, to have complete peace and to have prosperity."
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Both Iraq and Afghanistan have a large foreign troop presence. But President Karzai said that by voting, the Iraqis will prove themselves to be their own masters.
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The Afghan leader made the remarks on his return from a state visit to Iran.
He called the visit a success, citing plans to buy electricity from the Iranians to power the western Afghan city of Herat, and to improve road service between the two countries. (SIGNED)
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