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Karzai Says Afghan Violence Threatens Regional Stability

Hamid Karzai (file photo) (epa) November 18, 2006 -- Representatives of 18 countries are gathering in New Delhi for an international conference, amid growing concerns over increasing violence and bloodshed in Afghanistan.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, speaking in New Delhi at the second Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan, said violence in Afghanistan is the gravest threat to the stability of the wider region -- and the biggest obstacle to the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

Karzai, while stressing that he was not "blaming" Pakistan, urged Islamabad to do more to combat the Taliban and other militants using Pakistani safe havens to launch cross border attacks.

Some Afghan officials accuse Pakistan of backing the Taliban and India accuses Pakistan of backing Kashmiri separatists fighting New Delhi's rule in the Himalayan territory. Pakistan denies both charges.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also expressed concern at the increasing violence in southern Afghanistan. Singh said through the conference members should renew commitment to the reconstruction of the war- ravaged country.

Karzai also said a stable and prosperous Afghanistan could prove to be an asset for the region.

'Inconsistent Policies'

But the Afghan president said poor infrastructure and inconsistent policies were hampering regional economic cooperation. His remarks come after a recent warning by the UN World Food Program that it cannot feed millions of Afghans who will depend on the agency during the winter.

Afghanistan's infrastructure is largely in shambles after decades of war and occupation, despite billions of dollars spent by donors since U.S.-led forces overthrew the Taliban's radical Islamic government in 2001.

A UN Security Council delegation ended a visit recently saying the mounting violence, corruption, and the opium trade posed major threats to the government and more aid was needed.

RFE/RL Afghanistan Report

RFE/RL Afghanistan Report

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