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Afghan Leader Discusses Taliban Attacks, Desperation

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 2006 – Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that while Taliban and al Qaeda attacks have increased in southern and eastern parts of his country, the type of attacks show the terrorists' desperation.

Karzai spoke on CNN's "Late Edition" yesterday. He said the Taliban and al Qaeda are launching attacks against schools, school children, the clergy, provincial officials and teachers.

"Attacks have, in the past year, been against civilians," he said. "This is a clear sign that the terrorism is weakening in the military sense, that they can no longer fight the troops or the coalition or the Afghan soldiers. They're attacking civilians."

Karzai said the government believes the terrorists in Afghanistan and their backers have weakened considerably.

The president said he would like more cooperation from neighboring Pakistan. Terrorists use the border to evade Afghan and coalition troops.

"That's why it's an extremely important matter for us to ... have better coordination, better cooperation between the Afghan government and the government of Pakistan," he said. He plans a trip to Pakistan to speak with President Pervez Musharraf on the subject.

He said he is worried about terrorist suicide attacks. "It is a source of worry, because it hurts extremely innocent people," Karzai said. "It hurts, it kills, it maims our children. So we are concerned. We'd like to stop this."

NATO is taking over operations in southern Afghanistan - on a track for all of coalition efforts in the country being under NATO control by the end of 2007. The U.S. troop commitment in the country is dropping, but Karzai said, "I know it is not a reduction in the commitment to Afghanistan."

NATO will take over operations in a coordinated manner, he said. The worry - expressed early in the process - that national restrictions on troops would make them ineffective, has been resolved, Karzai said.

The president said he was pleased with the London donor's conference, concluded last week. He said donor nations expressed a strong recommitment to the future of Afghanistan and a very strong approval of the past four years of Afghanistan.

"We've also have made some promises, back in Afghanistan," he said. "We have to improve the administration. We have to cut intensely on corruption in the country. We have also to fight narcotics."

Karzai said he is pleased with international help as the country pledges to make these changes.

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