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Karzai Says International Troops Necessary to Combat Terrorism

President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan says domestic security forces are too weak on their own to fight the continuing threat of suicide bombers and terrorism. Mr. Karzai was on an official visit to Austria where he attended a conference on Islam.

U.S-backed President Hamid Karzai told reporters his country needed continued economic help and international troops.

"Afghanistan will need the presence of the international community until Afghanistan develops its own capability, its own institutions, of the army of the police and other relevant institution," said Hamid Karzai.

Mr. Karzai said he could not set a timetable on how long this process would take.

"The American presence is Afghanistan in terms of the number of troops is going probably to be reduced next year by 2006 but that reduction in troops will not mean a reduction in attention to Afghanistan," he said. "Afghanistan will continue to receive attention, the reduction of troops will be compensated by the arrival of NATO forces in Afghanistan and also the increasing strength of the Afghan army and Afghan police force."

On Monday the Taleban claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack against NATO peacekeepers in Kabul.

The president said the Taleban continues to work with al-Qaida and terrorism is a threat that could be defeated by democracy.

"But terrorism will remain to affect us, will remain to attack us for much more time to come," continued Afghanistan's president. "What is important for us now is to continue to strengthen the institutions, to continue to democratize the country."

Afghan legislative elections held in September confirmed victory for Mr. Karzai and he said participation in the election showed a defeat for terrorism.