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Karzai Praises Cooperation Against Terrorism

Afghan President Hamid Karzai (C) arrives for a group photo with the foreign attendees of the Asia Ministerial Conference in Kabul, June 14, 2012.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai (C) arrives for a group photo with the foreign attendees of the Asia Ministerial Conference in Kabul, June 14, 2012.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said international partners are cooperating to help his country fight terrorism and radicalism and bring peace and economic progress to the region.

President Karzai spoke Thursday at a one-day conference in Kabul, where officials were discussing the future of Afghanistan after foreign troops withdraw in 2014. The talks follow similar discussions last November in Turkey.

Karzai expressed confidence that Afghanistan can take full control of its security next year.

"We are certain that this transition will be completed in 2013 whereby the entire country, the Afghan population their security, well-being and matters related to governance, will be handled by the Afghan government alone," said Karzai.

Karzai also highlighted the work of Afghanistan's High Peace Council as one of the most important elements of the transition, saying the head of the council will soon travel for talks in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

He said that greater regional cooperation will help the fight terrorism.

Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Ali Akbar Salehi expressed support for regional cooperation but criticized the continue U.S. military presence in the country.

"As implied by the existing evidence, a particular country intends to prolong its military presence in Afghanistan in pursuit of its regional objectives. This certainly adds to the security concerns of Afghanistan's neighboring countries,' said Salehi.

Karzai thanked the nations that pledged during last month's NATO summit in Chicago to support Afghanistan's security forces through 2024.

The Afghan president, whose term ends in 2014, said he also wants to take steps to improve governance in the country, and plans to call a special parliamentary session next week to discuss steps to help start the next leader on a "better footing." He said it is only in "stability and harmony" that Afghanistan can prosper.

The Kabul talks, known as the "Heart of Asia" conference, involve 15 regional countries, including China, India, Iran, Pakistan and Turkey. The talks also involve representatives from France, Britain, Germany and the United States, as well as NATO and the European Union.

Next month, Japan is set to host a conference focusing on Afghanistan's future economic development.

Meanwhile Thursday, French President Francois Hollande said France will begin withdrawing the country's troops within coming weeks. Hollande, who has promised to complete the withdrawal by the end of this year, said it will take place "in order and security". He spoke at the funeral of four soldiers recently killed in Afghanistan.
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