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Hamid Karzai to Head Afghan Government

Afghanistan's rival factions have chosen Hamid Karzai, a moderate Muslim, to head the interim administration to replace Taleban rule in the war-shattered country.

Mr. Karzai says he is honored to know that his fellow countrymen have put trust in him and that they think he can do this job. "That is a great honor for me and I am basically very grateful and with the help of all-mighty God we will do all that human beings can possibly do to bring peace, security, and economic well being for Afghanistan," he said.

Mr. Karzai is currently based in southern Afghanistan, where his forces are trying to oust the Taleban from its last stronghold in Kandahar.

The 44 year old Pashtun leader served as deputy foreign minister in the previous Afghan government led by Burhanuddin Rabbani. The Rabbani government that took control of Kabul in 1992 was largely run by minority Tajiks.

Hamid Karzai left the government in the early years because of the infighting. He was among Afghan leaders who tried to persuade Mr. Rabbani to allow more Pashtun representatives in the government in order to avoid the conflict that destroyed large parts of Kabul and killed 50,000 civilians.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition forces, Kenton Keith, told reporters in Islamabad they welcome the U.N.-mediated agreement reached by Afghan factions meeting in Germany. "Today is a good day for Afghanistan," he said. "Afghanistan is moving on and the Taleban and al-Qaida that they are supporting, are being left behind. The settlement just announced offers the country a new future one where the full ethnic tapestry of the country has a role to play."

Mr. Keith again urged the remaining Taleban forces and members of Al-Qaida terrorist group, including its leader Osama bin Laden, to give up the fight.