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Karzai congratulates Obama, calls for strategy change in Afghan war
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Afghan President Hamid Karzai Wednesday congratulated Barack Obama on his victory in the U.S. presidential elections and called for change in the strategy on war against terrorism.

"I congratulate Senator Barack Obama on winning the presidential elections and we hope there will be a change in the strategy of war on terror," Karzai told newsmen at a press conference immediately after the result of U.S. Presidential polls came out.

Elaborating on his view, the Afghan president emphasized that by demanding change in strategy, he meant the war against terrorism in Afghanistan's villages would not work as Afghanistan itself is a victim of terrorism. "The war on terror should be conducted in areas where the sanctuaries of terrorists and their training centers exist," he said.

He did not specify any areas, but Afghan officials often said that Taliban militants and their al-Qaeda allied insurgents have taken shelter in Pakistan's northwestern tribal areas along the Afghan border.

Moreover, Karzai described civilian casualties as a big problem and called on the new leadership of the United States to prevent such happenings in the future. "Our first demand is to avoid harming civilians in Afghanistan," he noted.

Several thousand Afghan civilians have been killed in the U.S.- led war on militants in Afghanistan over the past seven years, either by the Taliban militants or by foreign and Afghan troops. In a most bloody one, some 90 civilians including women and children were killed in a U.S. air strike in Shindand district of western Herat province on Aug. 22.

The Afghan president, however, thanked the U.S. for its contribution to the rebuilding of the post-Taliban Afghanistan.

Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama won the U.S. general elections on Tuesday after grabbing at least 297 electoral votes.

Obama who in July paid a visit to Afghanistan had pledged that he, if elected, would send more U.S. troops to the war on militants in Afghanistan where currently around 70,000 international forces, half of them from the U.S., are deployed.

He also said the U.S. will launch unilateral attacks along the Afghan-Pakistan border if Pakistan is "unable" or "unwilling" to contain the escalating militancy in its northwest tribal areas.

Afghanistan-based U.S. forces over the months had conducted several bombing attacks into Pakistani soil which were said to target militant hideouts but sometimes killed civilians, spurring anger among Pakistani military and local residents.

Saying it has the capability to handle militants on its sovereign soil, Islamabad has categorically rejected such cross- border attacks.

(Xinhua News Agency November 5, 2008)

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