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Karzai Says Afghanistan Can't Handle Drugs Alone --> Berlin, 31 March 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai told an international donors conference in Berlin today that his country can not deal with the problem of narcotics on its own.

Karzai called illegal drugs a menace but said with little opportunity in Afghanistan to earn a living legally, many people resort to growing or trafficking drugs.

"Drugs in Afghanistan are undermining the very existence of the Afghan state. Nobody wants to be called a drug dealer, especially not a nation. We would pride ourselves on the fruit production that we have, we would pride ourselves on lots of other forms of agriculture that we have, and here I would request the international community to help us fight it and to help us create alternative livelihoods for our people," Karzai said.

Karzai also blamed former regional military commanders who continue to exert a huge influence over areas of Afghanistan, saying such people are linked to the illegal narcotics trade.

The goal of the two-day donors conference is to raise money for Afghanistan's reconstruction. Karzai's administration has said Afghanistan needs more than $27 billion in additional aid over the next seven years -- but officials have refused to set any fund-raising target for the Berlin conference.