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President Karzai Interviewed on CNN

President Hamid Karzai was interviewed on CNN's "GPS with Fareed Zakaria" on Sunday, February 15. During the interview, President Karzai spoke positively of President Barack Obama and argued for the need of more U.S. troops to combat terrorism and help build Afghan institutions. He also noted the importance of reducing civilian casualties in Afghanistan.

Calling President Obama a "great person," President Karzai expressed optimism over relations between Afghanistan and the U.S. "I can certainly work with him. I can certainly engage with him very, very, very positively," he said. President Karzai first met President Obama when he traveled to Afghanistan as a senator in July 2008; they most recently spoke on the phone on February 17.

Speaking on the issue of additional U.S. troops, President Karzai noted that any increases should be focused on curbing terrorist crossings from neighboring countries and should strive to avoid directly affecting Afghan citizens. "Any addition of troops must have a purposeful objective that Afghan people would agree with, that any addition of troops should effectively curb terrorism and terrorists crossing into the Afghan side, and that the Afghan people should feel secure," said President Karzai.

Responding to accusations about corruption in Afghanistan, President Karzai argued that "serious and sytematic" efforts are being made to fight corruption. "Daily, we have judges dismissed. Daily we have officials dismissed. Daily we have people imprisoned. We have ministers dismissed. We have governors dismissed. We have governors in prison - done sentence terms. We have ambassadors dismissed. We have ambassadors held to accountability," he said.

President Karzai also broadly addressed the issue of how long U.S. troops should remain in Afghanistan, saying that the Afghan people have welcomed as liberators but that Afghan security forces are growing to take the lead in securing the country. "Americans were welcomed so wholeheartedly in Afghanistan by the Afghan people, that our history has no example of. Our history generally is not well inclined towards foreign troops. But the United States and our other allies were received with overwhelming goodwill and great expectations," he stated.

"The American taxpayer money has come to Afghanistan and has built our lives. Millions of our children are going to school. We have a health service that we could never imagine in another 30 years from now. The American blood has been shed in Afghanistan protecting Afghanistan and fighting against terrorism alongside other countries," he continued.

    

"So, the Afghans are extremely, extremely grateful for that. And we will remain grateful forever. We are known to be a nation of a value that doesn't forget one's help to us. The U.S. forces will not be able to leave soon Afghanistan, because the task is not over. We'll have to defeat terrorism. We'll have to enable Afghanistan to stand on its own feet. We'll have to enable Afghanistan to be able to defend itself and protect for the security. And that will also provide, by extension, security to the rest of the world."

    

"Then the United States can leave. And at that time, the Afghan people will give them plenty of flowers and plenty of gratitude, and send them safely back home," he closed.

Related News: Interview with President Karzai (Part 1)

                      Interview with President Karzail (Part 2)

                      Karzai, Obama Speak on Phone (AP)

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