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Karzai Meets Bush at White House - 2002-01-28


Afghanistan's interim leader, Hamid Karzai, is to meet later at White House with President Bush. Security concerns are expected to be the focus of the talks.

Hamid Karzai looked ahead to the meeting during an interview on American television.

He told NBC's Today Show that he would welcome American participation in the multinational peacekeeping force being deployed in Afghanistan. He also said most Afghans would like to see the peacekeeping mission expanded outside Kabul.

"If we need them at any time to be there in the rest of the country, we will ask for it. And if the United States can be there as part of that multinational force, it is welcome," he said.

The Bush administration has made clear on numerous occasions that it is willing to remain in Afghanistan as long as necessary to combat terrorism, but responsibility for peacekeeping should rest with other nations.

In addition to security matters, the Bush-Karzai meeting is expected to touch on other issues such as humanitarian aid for Afghanistan, and political concerns, such as the role of women in the Afghan government.

Afghanistan's interim leader has a full schedule for his visit, including the State of the Union address, which he will attend Tuesday as the president's special guest.

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