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Karzai's Afghan Government Gets Renewed International Support


Foreign ministers and other officials of major world powers and neighboring countries of Afghanistan meeting Sunday at the United Nations pledged renewed support for the Afghan government of President Hamid Karzai in its fight against Taleban insurgents. At the same time, Kabul authorities were pressed to do more to promote good governance, and combat corruption and drug trafficking. VOA's David Gollust reports from our U.N. bureau.

The 18-nation meeting co-hosted by Mr. Karzai and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon gave the Karzai government the anticipated show of support. But it pressed the Kabul government to, in the words of a closing statement, progressively assume responsibility for its own development and security.

Nearly 170 international soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan this year, making it the bloodiest in that category since the Taleban regime was ousted in 2001. The U.N. Security Council voted last week to extend for another year the mandate of the 39-thousand strong NATO-led international security force in Afghanistan.

But some key NATO countries are talking about ending their combat roles and there is political pressure on the Karzai government to seek dialogue with at least the relatively-moderate factions within the insurgency.

In a talk with reporters with the U.N. chief after the three-hour meeting, Mr. Karzai said reconciliation efforts are underway and that he considers most insurgent elements to be potential negotiating partners.

"We are already in contact through a peace and reconciliation process with those Taleban who are not part of al-Qaida and part of terrorist networks, who are - really-in the majority, the kind of Taleban that I spoke about. And this is going on and we would like to add to this process as opportunity presents itself," he said.

Secretary-General Ban said participating countries urged the United Nations to increase its efforts for Afghan political reconciliation, and that there was a similar request to Mr. Karzai and his government in promoting an inclusive political dialogue. The U.N. chief said to this end, the world body is increasing its physical presence in Afghanistan as security conditions permit.

"This is what we have been doing and will continue to do so, closely monitoring the security situation there. We have established nine more offices recently in eight regional offices. There for we have now 17, altogether, offices . We have, still, a shortage of manpower. But we are in the process of considering how to increase our physical contribution," he said.

The communiqué issued here stressed international efforts to train, mentor and empower the Afghan armed forces. But it said security cannot be restored by military means alone and that security gains need to be consolidated through the building of government institutions and provision of development aid.

The closed-door meeting included U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, one of the infrequent occasions where the two countries - which do not have diplomatic relations - attend common events.

The also attended a multi-lateral meeting on Iraq Saturday, but did not interact.

Under questioning, President Karzai praised Iranian efforts to curb regional drug trafficking, and said in his presentation at the meeting, Mr. Mottaki said that three-thousand members of the Iranian security forces have lost their lives in anti-drug operations.

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