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Sunday, 17 November, 2002, 16:59 GMT
Muhammad Ali visits Kabul
Muhammad Ali arrives in Kabul
Ali is on his first trip to Afghanistan
The former boxing champion Muhammad Ali has arrived in Kabul, on a visit which aims to raise awareness of the problems Afghanistan continues to face, more than a year after the fall of the Taleban regime.

Muhammad Ali and Hamid Karzai
President Karzai welcomed Ali in person
Ali, who became a United Nations messenger of peace in 1998, met Afghan President Hamid Karzai on the first day of his three-day mission.

"You have the strength in you still... I wish you could stay forever with us. Afghanistan would have been delighted to have you here, to have the champion of the century here," Mr Karzai said.

Ali, who won the world heavyweight title an unprecedented three times, has become frail in recent years after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1982.

Funding shortage

Ali is due to visit a girls' school, a women's bakery and a Kabul sport's club.

Muhammad Ali
Ali is hugely popular among Afghans
"Mr Ali wanted to come here... in order to emphasise the need for continued international support for Afghanistan and the Afghan people," said UN spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva.

Foreign donors have promised a $4.5bn aid package but the Afghan Government says little has arrived.

Many people are still homeless as the winter approaches.

Ali, who is on his first visit to Afghanistan, is immensely popular there.

"I would die to see him, I wish I could. He is the best boxer," one Afghan athlete told Reuters news agency.


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13 Nov 02 | South Asia
12 Nov 02 | South Asia
14 Jan 02 | Ali at 60
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