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Karzai must take 'decisive' action

Re-elected Afghan leader needs 'transparent' plan says Frattini

18 November, 17:47
Karzai must take 'decisive' action (ANSA) - Istanbul, November 18 - Re-elected Afghan President Hamid Karzai must take "decisive" action to convince the Afghan people he will be able to fight graft, boost the economy and ensure security, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Wednesday.

Speaking at an Italian-Turkish forum ahead of a trip to Kabul Thursday for Karzai's inauguration, Frattini called on Karzai to "take a decisive and transparent step towards the Afghan people, illustrating his government's priorities".

This plan, Frattini said, "should explain how he will relaunch the economy, defeat corruption and ensure security".

Karzai was proclaimed the winner of a fraud-tainted August election last month after his rival Abdullah Abdullah pulled out of a runoff ordered by international monitors.

Frattini said efforts were needed to help boost Karzai's credibility in the face of a twin threat from the Taliban and warlords who both control opium poppy crops.

Before Thursday's inauguration, Frattini said the members of the NATO coalition fighting the Taliban would hold talks.

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is helping President Barack Obama reassess the Afghan War, would "probably" be there, he said.

The Italian foreign minister also reaffirmed the need for an international conference under the aegis of the United Nations, to be held in Kabul.

Italy has been conferring closely with Karzai's administration and Kabul's ambassador to Italy, Musa M. Maroofi, visited Rome for talks last week. In a debate with Ambassador Massimo Iannucci, the Italian foreign ministry's special representative for Afghanistan, Ambassador Maroofi stressed the imperative of defeating the Taliban "militarily".

Maroofi said that ridding the country of the Taliban would "resolve 75% of our country's problems''.

However, the Afghan diplomatic representative made it clear that he was only expressing his ''personal views".

He recalled that the official position of the Kabul government was to keep ''the door open for dialogue and negotiations with the Taliban who repudiate violence and accept the Afghan constitution''.

''But this is a dream which will be difficult to achieve,'' he added.

During the debate, Ambassador Maroofi said that the interests of the international community coincided with those of the Afghan government: combating corruption, greater transparency, rebuilding the country and defeating terrorism.

He also said that Karzai's contested re-election had been ''clean'' and was ''totally legitimate''.

Ambassador Maroofi made a point in the debate to thank the Italian government and people for their support and cooperation during the election period.

Italy sent an additional 400 troops to Afghanistan for the elections, in addition to the some 2,800 troops it has deployed with the NATO-led ISAF mission.

US President Obama has for months been re-evaluating American strategy on Afghanistan and Pakistan and is expected to announce a new approach within weeks.

General Stanley A. McChrystal, the US commander, has asked for 40,000 extra troops but Obama is reportedly reluctant to send so many.

There are currently 68,000 US soldiers there, plus 40,000 from allied nations.

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