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Afghan President Expects Foreign Presence For Five To 10 Years

Afghan President Hamid Karzai (file photo) (epa) 27 January 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai says his country is likely to require a foreign military presence to promote stability and security in Afghanistan for another five to 10 years.

Speaking to journalists at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Karzai said Afghanistan's armed forces "have to turn into strong institutions to be able to defend the country and maintain internal stability and peace," according to French news agency AFP.

"That [the exit of international security forces] will take a number of years," Karzai said, "between five and 10 years perhaps -- it probably will take longer or less."

His statement comes as representatives of 70 countries prepare for a conference in London that organizers hope will produce a blueprint for international cooperation with Afghanistan for the next five years.

AFP quoted Karzai as saying the Afghan National Army now comprises 33,000 internationally trained troops, with that number expected to rise.

RFE/RL Afghanistan Report

RFE/RL Afghanistan Report

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