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Afghan Leader Says Much Remains To Be Done

Afghan Transitional Administration head Karzai (file photo) United Nations, 22 September 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai has admitted his country still has a number of problems to solve, but he says the planned 9 October presidential election represents "the most significant milestone" toward a democratic government.

Karzai made the statement late yesterday in a speech at the opening of the UN General Assembly. He said Afghanistan needs the help of its neighbors and the international community to fix its main problem -- which he said is combating terrorism.

"Eliminating the remnants of terrorism in our region requires not only the continued support from the international community but also strong and sincere commitment from other countries in the region. To stop the movement of terrorists across borders, the countries of the region must cooperate closely," Karzai said.

Afghan and UN officials have said fighters linked to the former ruling Taliban and Al-Qaeda terrorist network continue to cross the border from Pakistan into southern areas of Afghanistan. Pakistan has insisted it is working hard to secure the border.

Karzai is one of 18 registered candidates campaigning for the presidency. Legislative elections are slated to take place in 2005.

(with additional Reuters reports)