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FRANCE PLEDGES MILLIONS FOR AFGHANISTAN - 2002-03-02


French officials have pledged millions of dollars to help Afghanistan train its military and police forces -- but have rejected calls for international peacekeepers to be deployed beyond the Afghan capital, Kabul.

Both French President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Lionel Jospin have told Afghanistan's visiting interim leader, Hamid Karzai, they oppose expanding the presence of the international force outside Kabul. Paris did agree to back a proposal for extending the stay of the peacekeeping force in Afghanistan.

Mr. Karzai, who wrapped up a two-day visit to Paris on Friday, later told reporters he had asked Turkey to take over the command of the international force when Britain relinquishes it next month.

Meanwhile, in an interview with V-O-A, Mr. Karzai called Iran "a friendly and brotherly country" that has given a lot of assistance to Afghanistan. Noting that both the United States and Iran have pledged to help Afghanistan establish peace and stability, he said he hopes this shared goal brings the two countries closer together.

Earlier Friday, Mr. Karzai met with the head of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Koichiro Matsuura to discuss listing several archeological locations in Afghanistan as UNESCO cultural heritage sites.

The danger to Afghanistan's rich cultural heritage captured international attention last year, when Taleban authorities demolished two giant fifth-century statues of Buddha.

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