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    President promises focus on combating graft

    KABUL (PAN): President Hamid Karzai on Thursday promised that his administration would focus on ensuring good governance and combating administrative corruption over the next two years.

    The president, whose tenure expires after two years, held out the pledge during a meeting with German Foreign Guido Westerwelle at the Presidential Palace in Kabul.

    Karzai’s recent trip to China and his participation in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Beijing figured at the meeting, a statement from the president’s office said.

    Westerwelle congratulated Karzai on the SCO giving Afghanistan observer status and the successful holding of the Heart of Asia conference in Kabul.

    Minister Hailing the conference as a major achievement, German Foreign Minister said the deliberations were in the interest of Afghanistan and the region at large.
    He assured Kabul of continued aid and asked Afghanistan’s neighbours to play their effective roles in removing hurdles to stability in the conflict-torn country.

    For his part, Karzai described his visit to Beijing as a success and said regional states -- particularly China and Russia -- were supportive of the strategic cooperation agreements that Afghanistan recently signed with several countries.

    The statement said Karzai also lauded Germany for extending 150 million euros in aid to Afghanistan for strengthening its security forces. Pakistan’s cooperation in the war on terror and the Afghan reconciliation process also came up for discussion.

    Separately, the Russian foreign minister also met Karzai and characterised the Heart of Asia conference as a good step toward solid regional cooperation.

    Sergey Lavrov, greeting Karzai on the success of the meeting, expressed the Russian desire for all-round cooperation with Afghanistan. He said Moscow wanted to cooperate with Kabul on old and new projects in the country.

    Japan’s Senior Parliamentary Vice-Minister Ryuji Yamane briefed Karzai on preparations for the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan’s future. The event is slated for next month.

    He called the Kabul conference important for Afghanistan in terms of mustering regional assistance for peace and stability.

    Danish Foreign Minister Sovndal called President Karzai’s address to the gathering comprehensive and significant. He renewed EU’s long-term commitment to supporting Afghanistan during transition and the transformation decade.