Karzai Promises to Learn from Mistakes

Thursday US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States will help Afghanistan prepare its military and police to take over the security of the country.

Responding to a pledge by Afghan President Hamid Karzai that the country will take over responsiblity for security in five years, she said the United States would assist it to do so as quickly as possible.

"I was personally pleased to see the president set an ambitious goal for the training of the Afghan national security forces -- it is a goal that he believes can be met," she said.

"We want to assist him and the military and police leadership in Afghanistan to move as quickly as they can to stand up and deploy a professional, motivated, effective force on behalf of the people of this country," she said.

Clinton was speaking to reporters at the US embassy in Kabul hours after attending Karzai's inauguration ceremony at the presidential palace, AFP reports.

Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband is visiting Afghanistan and attending the inauguration of Afghan President Hamid Karzai as a witness to the new contract between President Karzai and the Afghan people, British Foreign Ministry announced on Thursday.

This is Miliband's fifth visit to Afghanistan as foreign secretary.

Miliband said "I'm not here to applaud President Karzai. I'm here to engage with him and his key people and make sure they understand that there's a contract between the Afghan government and the international community that must be honored."

The foreign secretary also welcomed Karzai's inauguration speech which said he "promised to learn from mistakes" and tackle corruption.

Miliband said "I think the fact that there is plain speaking going on reflects the sort of engagement that's going on from the whole international community, 17 NATO foreign ministers are here including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov," Xinhua reports.

BBC News quoted Nazir Ahmad, student, Helmand province, as saying, "Karzai has been president for eight years, but he didn't bring the change we had hoped for. After 30 years of war, all we wanted was peace.

My concern is that he has not gained the trust of the Afghan people and I do not think he'll be leading the country in a good way. It wasn't a good election - many things were untidy and there was too much fraud.

Now that he has been sworn in as president, the first thing he should do is to protect the borders and prevent insurgents from entering the country. That can only be done with the help of the ISAF and the US forces as they are here to protect the country.

The best way to get rid of corruption is to have a healthy cabinet with capable members, which is not the case with Karzai's government.

The current system is really bad for poor people - those with money get richer and the poor people become even poorer. Karzai must work to develop the country, build factories, attract foreign investment.

There is not much hope at the moment. Afghan people are extremely bored with him and the way he governs the country," BBC News reports.

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