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Exiled Afghan King Gives Blessings to Karzai - 2001-12-19


Afghanistan's new interim leader, Hamid Karzai, has received a symbolic but important gift from the country's exiled king -- a copy of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

Former king Mohammad Zahir Shah gave his personal copy of the holy book to Mr. Karzai during their meeting in Rome Tuesday.

Mr. Karzai says the gift gives him tremendous hope because he says he is returning to Afghanistan with the king's blessings.

Many Afghans still revere the king -- ousted in a 1973 military coup -- and see him as the Afghanistan's sole hope for unifying the country's many tribes. His approval is considered vital for the new Afghan leader to succeed.

The king and Mr. Karzai are Pashtun -- Afghanistan's largest ethnic group.

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