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Last Updated: Sunday, 8 June, 2003, 11:27 GMT 12:27 UK
Karzai warns more aid is needed
The Queen presents Hamid Karzai with the insignia of the Knight Grand Cross of the order of St Michael and St George
A knighthood from the Queen - but no cheques
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has renewed his plea for an additional $15bn to 20bn for reconstruction in Afghanistan.

He said the money was necessary to help the country build its economy and begin generating its own revenues, as well as to fight the threat posed by former Taleban members.

"If that help doesn't come, Afghanistan will not be an easy ride," he said in a TV interview with the BBC's Breakfast With Frost.

He insisted security in the country was "satisfactory", but a bombing in Kabul on Saturday - after the interview was recorded - which killed four German peacekeepers has highlighted the continuing perils facing security forces there.

Mr Karzai said the Taleban was defeated "as a movement, as a government, as a political and military structure... [But] as individuals and groups, they have the capability to hit as terrorists".

But, he said, al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden "is definitely not in Afghanistan".

"We still do not have any evidence he is alive. We do not have any evidence to the contrary... We don't know.

"But Osama as an element of terrorism is defeated."

A US-led coalition ousted the Taleban leadership of Afghanistan in a brief campaign shortly after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.

'No cheques'

Mr Karzai said that after meeting UK Prime Minister Tony Blair on Thursday he had been reassured that the world was "not walking away" from Afghanistan as he had feared in the run-up to war in Iraq.

He said the additional international aid was necessary to give Afghans what he had promised them by the end of the year: "A new currency, a better economy, better reconstruction of highways and dams, a fair political process".

However, he joked with his interviewer David Frost, no cheques were signed during the meeting with Mr Blair.

Asked about the rebuilding of Afghanistan's political system, Mr Karzai said the process of "constitution-making is on schedule" and elections should be held on the target of June 2004.

He said that if the Afghan people were satisfied with his performance in power, he would stand for election.

"If not, should I? I don't think so."


SEE ALSO:
Germany resolute after Kabul attack
08 Jun 03  |  South Asia
Afghan leader meets Blair
05 Jun 03  |  South Asia
High alert after Afghan battle
06 Jun 03  |  South Asia
Afghan war 'far from over'
09 May 03  |  South Asia
Hamid Karzai: Shrewd statesman
14 Jun 02  |  South Asia


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