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Chinese culture adds charm to Beijing Olympics, says Karzai
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The splendid Chinese culture will add charm to the upcoming Beijing Olympics, making it "colorful, interesting and entertaining," Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in a recent exclusive interview with Xinhua.

"With the great Chinese culture, heritage, and with Chinese hospitality" the Games will be a "great event," said the Afghan leader, who is to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics on Aug. 8.

The president is attracted by China, a country with a 5,000-year-old history, which established trade and cultural ties with Afghanistan through the historical "silk road" as early as the first century A.D.

"Great part is Olympics, but much greater part is China for us, as a neighbor, as a great cultural destination," he noted.

He said he is keen to experience the Beijing Olympics, for "it is not only the Games there, the sports, (but also) it is a great cultural addition."


People can hardly enjoy sports in a country ravaged by decades of factional conflicts and a following six-year, hard-line Taliban regime. For many years, Afghan has won no Olympic medal.

Four Afghan athletes, including two Taekwondo players, are to compete in the Beijing Olympics.

The post-Taliban Afghanistan wants to make a breakthrough this time, hopefully in Taekwondo, said Sayed Mohmood Zia Dashti, deputy of the Afghan Olympic Commission, in an earlier interview with Xinhua.

"We have good players, and I hope they will do well," Karzai said.

Although the country has just survived years of wars and destruction, with lots of its people still suffering from poverty and miseries, the president hopes the players "will devote faith to the competition."

The 51-year-old president is a fan of sports. He enjoys watching football games and favors climbing. He also likes tennis and can play table tennis.

When talking about his expectations towards Afghan players, Karzai said, "Athletes are all young and sports are sports; it doesn't matter who wins."

"What matters is that young people get together and demonstrate competitiveness and hard work, and go back happily," he added.

Karzai also refuted a few western media which have criticized China over its preparation work for the Games, saying the criticism is of political motives. "From our point of view, the Chinese preparation is wonderful, on time and extraordinary."


Commenting on the prospect of Afghan-Chinese relations, Karzai said it is "extremely good."

He said Afghanistan is glad to see Chinese company win the bid to explore the Aynak copper, a word-class one in Logar, south of the Afghan capital Kabul.

"We're hoping and expecting a lot more investment (from China) into Afghanistan and more trade relations between us," Karzai noted.

He said Afghanistan hopes to build a road linking China and its northeastern province Badkhshan, which borders western China.

"I hope I could see it in my lifetime," Karzai said.

(Xinhua News Agency August 3, 2008)

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