The leaders of Britain and Afghanistan have pledged long-term cooperation in a meeting that was overshadowed by the recent London bombings, and a rise in terrorist activity in Afghanistan.
|Tony Blair and Hamid Karzai in London|
British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Afghan President Hamid Karzai discussed ways to sustain Afghanistan's transition to democracy in the face of ongoing problems of terrorism and drug trafficking.
The leaders signed a declaration for a 10-year program to advance security, economic growth, political development and counter-narcotics cooperation.
A joint news conference was dominated by questions about the July 7 bombings in London, which killed more than 55 people. Police say four suspected Muslim suicide bombers are to blame.
Prime Minister Blair says Britain now faces the same sort of terrorism that has lashed Afghanistan and other countries. "The one thing I found very powerful in just the short time we've been having our discussion was the president of Afghanistan telling me of the terrorism that is still there in parts of Afghanistan," he said, "in the murder of some of the senior clerics in Afghanistan by the very same type of ideology that is causing such death and destruction right around the world."
President Karzai said the London attacks have nothing to do with the religion of Islam. "What happened in London a few days ago was not related to any religion, definitely not related to Islam," said the Afghan leader. "Because the same people have been killing Muslims for so many years. My plea to the people of Britain is to unite with people everywhere in the world to fight this menace to the end of it."
It has emerged that three of the four London bombers traveled to Pakistan in the past year, and authorities are investigating whether they received religious or terrorist instruction.
Mr. Karzai says he wants to work closely with Pakistan to shut down the more radical Islamic education centers, called madrassas. British officials say some of those schools are distorting Islam's teachings, and serve as terrorist recruitment centers.