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Afghanistan's Karzai Intends to Create Unity Government

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Afghanistan's re-elected President Hamid Karzai says he intends to set up a government with maximum representation from across the country and promised to introduce reforms aimed at eradicating corruption as well as strengthening Afghan security forces. He spoke in Kabul a day after the country's election officials declared him winner of the controversial August 20 election.

President Hamid Karzai told a news conference in Kabul that improving security and ensuring good governance will remain high on his agenda as he embarks on a new five-year term. In order to achieve these goals, the Afghan leader says he will work towards establishing what he described as "a national unity government".

"My government will for all Afghans and all those who want to work with me are most welcomed regardless of whether they opposed me in the election or they supported me in the election," Karzai said.

President Karzai's administration has remained under fire from the United States and other Western allies for not taking concrete steps to root out widespread corruption.

Earlier, in a telephone call to congratulate him on his re-election, U.S. President Barack Obama urged the Afghan leader to implement reforms and take action against corruption.

President Karzai promised to take tough action to overcome these problems.

"We are aware of the difficulties of our governance and the environment in which we live. We will keep trying our best to address the questions facing Afghanistan and to make sure that the wishes of the Afghan people come true towards an effective clean government legally bound. And also at the same time to make sure that the tax payers' money coming to us from your countries is spent wisely and rightly," he said.

Afghan election officials declared Mr. Karzai the winner after his main rival Abdullah Abdullah withdrew from a runoff that had been set for November 7 to resolve the controversy over the fraud-plagued first round of voting in August.

The former foreign minister announced his decision after President Karzai rejected his demands that included the dismissal of the head of the country's Independent Election Commission and several ministers. Abdullah maintained his demands were not met and he believed the voter fraud was likely to reoccur in the runoff election.

At a separate news conference, U.S Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry said the conclusion of the election process is a new opportunity for the international community to work closely with Afghan leaders.

"We need to make serious, serious efforts over the next several years to really develop the Afghan National Army and police of Afghanistan, so increasingly Afghanistan has the capability to provide directly the security for its own people. And very serious efforts made and very serious progress made in trying to improve the accountability of the governments. Really fight the problem of corruption take it head-on and deal with it. And we the International community, we have role to play in this," Eikenberry said.

While the election controversy has settled and the political uncertainty seems to be over, U.S. President Barack Obama has yet to announce his decision whether to send more troops to Afghanistan, where the rising Taliban insurgency has undermined international efforts to bring security to the country.

Taliban insurgents have termed President Karzai's return as a farce, and vowed to continue a campaign they say is aimed at driving foreign forces out of Afghanistan.