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Karazai To Quickly Tackle Afghanistan's Debilitated Economy

Afghanistan's interim government leader is calling for the formation of a new national army to bring security and stability to the war-ravaged country.

In his first televised speech to the nation since taking office on December 22, Hamid Karzai outlined his plans to rebuild Afghanistan's ruined economy and establish security.

He began the speech by urging Afghan's warring factions to put aside their differences and create a national army capable of protecting all Afghans. Earlier in the day, the interim government's interior minister, Yunis Qanuni, ordered all armed soldiers except police and official security forces to leave Kabul and return to their bases.

Mr. Karzai also gave the clearest indication yet that he intends to tackle the country's vast economic problems sooner rather than later.

He says the first priority of the government is to control inflation and to stabilize the national currency called afghanis. The interim government chairman also pledged to help restore Afghanistan's manufacturing sector, which he says will improve the economy and living standards. Another area of focus will be to create jobs and raise the employment level.

Mr. Karzai did not give any specific details about his blueprint for reconstruction. But he has indicated that much of what he hopes to accomplish are pinned on continued support and financial assistance from the international community.