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Karzai Urges Unity With Pakistan Against Terrorism


Afghan President Hamid Karzai has called Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf a brother, and said the two countries should work together to root out terrorism. In TV appearances Sunday, Mr. Karzai addressed an ongoing dispute over which country is sheltering wanted al-Qaida terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden.

President Karzai said his country is taking a wait and see attitude about a truce recently signed between Pakistan and tribal leaders from regions along the border with Afghanistan.

At the same time, he told CNN's Late Edition violence in his country has increased.

"Our governor, a very prominent Afghan, was assassinated with a suicide bombing," said Hamid Karzai. "Other attacks took place in the area. So, we will have to really see, as we go ahead into future, if the agreement will hold, as it has been signed."

Afghanistan and Pakistan have traded barbs over which country is unwittingly providing sanctuary to wanted terrorist Osama bin Laden, who is believed to be hiding in the mountainous border region between the two countries.

The Afghan leader refrained from directly criticizing Pakistan. But in an exchange with host Tim Russert on NBC's Meet the Press, Mr. Karzai said if the world wants to eliminate terrorism, it has to address the roots of the problem.

KARZAI: "When I said we have to go to sources of terrorism, where they are trained, where they are equipped, where they are given money, where they are given motivation, and sent to kill international coalition forces, engineers, doctors, Afghans, that's what I meant."

RUSSERT: "You're talking about Pakistan."

KARZAI: "Wherever the source is."

The war against terrorism will be high on the agenda when President Bush receives Mr. Karzai at the White House Tuesday. The two leaders are scheduled to have dinner with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, another major issue in Afghanistan is a significant rise in the cultivation of opium poppies. Afghanistan supplies more than 90 percent of the world's opium and heroin poppy.

Mr. Karzai said he thought he could reduce the amount of poppies grown in the country when he was formally inaugurated two years ago. Now, he says, poppy cultivation has become an economic reality.

"More than 30 percent of the Afghan economy runs on this," admitted Hamid Karzai. "The farmers live on it now. We are ashamed of it. It embarrasses us like hell, when I'm asked, when the international community comes to speak to me about this."

Efforts to tackle this problem are getting a boost from the Clinton Global Initiative, run by former President Bill Clinton, which has a plan to redirect Afghan farmers away from growing poppy. Mr. Clinton spoke on Meet the Press about a privately funded project aimed at encouraging Afghan farmers to switch crops.

"Our country, our government has spent quite a lot of money in Colombia, the Andean countries, not only helping to build up the security forces to fight the narco traffickers and their guerrilla supporters, but also trying to help farmers in that region convert off of growing coca," said Bill Clinton. "And the economics have been quite challenging. So, we might find out some things in Afghanistan that might change that all over the world."

The $450,000 project, called the Global Partnership for Afghanistan, will launch 100 commercially-viable orchard and woodlot businesses in Afghanistan, with an eventual goal of giving Afghan farmers a higher rate of return than poppy cultivation.

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