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Karzai: 'Afghanistan Needs 70,000 Strong Army' - 2002-12-02


Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, has presented plans to build a national army of up to 70-thousand troops as he outlined efforts to extend his authority throughout his country.

He made the announcement at an international conference on Afghanistan in Germany marking the first anniversary of the Bonn agreement, which installed him as the country's post-Taleban leader.

The Afghan president said his country must be stable if reforms already under way are to continue.

Germany called today's (Monday's) conference to re-focus international attention on Afghanistan. Donor countries have pledged billions of dollars in aid, but only a portion of that money has found its way to Kabul.

As progress was being discussed in Germany, gunfire rattled western Afghanistan, where forces of rival warlords clashed for a third day. Followers of Pashtun commander Ammanullah Khan are battling ethnic-Tajik forces loyal to Ismail Khan, the governor of Herat province.

U-S - led forces ended Taleban rule in Afghanistan last year, but fighting in the country has continued as rival regional warlords battle for territory.

U-S warplanes dropped bombs in western Herat province after a U-S patrol came under fire Sunday from one of the rival factions fighting there. A U-S military spokesman (Lieutenantc colonel Roger King) told reporters (at Bagram Air Base) that officials do not know which group was responsible.

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