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Karzai :International Attention on Iraq Should Not distract from the Fight against Terrorism - 2002-10-07


President Karzai says, at this point in Afghan history it would be "very unwise" to leave the country alone as the world community focuses on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. President Karzai said:"I am not concerned that the U-S will shift its attention from Afghanistan and entirely focus it on Iraq, but I would like to remind our friends in the United States and in the international community that we have to really finish the job in Afghanistan completely."

In an interview on the C-N-N television program Late Edition, President Karzai said finishing the job in Afghanistan means making sure that terrorist groups in and around the country are broken up.

President Karzai came to power following a U-S led military campaign to remove the former Taleban government, which supported al-Qaida terrorists blamed for the September 11th attacks in New York and Washington.

U-S troops are helping train a new Afghan army and are part of President Karzai's security detail. He says foreign troops should stay in Afghanistan as long as it takes to make the country secure.

Mr. Karzai said: "I believe the presence of the international forces here the U-S, the allies, and the I-S-A-F, the International Security Assistance Force should be here for as long as the Afghan people need them so that we can stand on our own feet. I can not say the time frame, probably a year, probably less or more than that. But the essential thing here is to help Afghanistan stand back on its own feet to defend itself and defend against terrorism and radicalism, and then the rest of the world can go and we will be able to manage on our own."

The Bush Administration says its call for action against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein will not distract from the fight against terrorism. President Bush says his campaign against Iraq is part of that fight as he says Iraq could help terrorists acquire chemical or biological weapons.

Iraq says it has no weapons of mass destruction and has agreed to the return of U-N inspectors to prove it.

President Bush will make a nationwide address Monday to make his case for action against Iraq. He says Saddam Hussein presents a "grave and growing danger" to the United States.

Mr. Bush wants Congress to give him the authority to use force if he concludes that diplomacy alone is not enough to remove Iraqi threats. (SIGNED)

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