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Karzai Wants Commitment of Forces

February 27, 2002

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NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ Afghans want more international security troops to spread out through their country as a guarantee of the world’s commitment to help Afghanistan, interim prime minister Hamid Karzai said Wednesday.

``The forces will stay there as long as Afghans need them,″ Karzai said during a joint press conference with Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

He said Afghans ``demand to have more of the international forces in Afghanistan, in more provinces.″ It’s not for their physical safety, he said, but the troops are wanted as a guarantee ``of the international commitment ... to Afghanistan until it is able to take care of itself.″

Vajpayee said that if Indian troops are needed to help secure Afghanistan, ``we will consider it favorably.″

Karzai said he had no problem with Indian troops coming, but said it is the United Nations, not his administration, that decides which country contributes to the security force.

The country is beginning to establish its own army and police, he said.

``As soon as Afghanistan is stable, and firm on our own feet, and the fight against terrorism is finished, we will ask the international security forces to leave,″ Karzai said.

He confirmed that Afghanistan’s 87-year-old exiled king, Zahir Shah, who now lives outside Rome, would be arriving March 21 to celebrate the Afghan new year. He is coming ``as an Afghan citizen, an elderly statesman,″ Karzai said.

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