Afghan President Karzai dismisses 'al-Qaeda comeback'

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Media captionMr Karzai, in his interview with the BBC's Lyse Doucet, was critical of President George W Bush's "war on terror"

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has dismissed the possibility of al-Qaeda linked groups making a comeback in his country in a similar way to Iraq.

Asked by the BBC's Lyse Doucet in Kabul whether what was happening in Iraq could happen in Afghanistan, the president replied: "Never, not at all."

The outgoing president said that al-Qaeda had no presence in Afghanistan.

Nato troops withdraw from Afghanistan at the end of 2014. Some commentators have warned of an increase in violence.

'Continued international support'

President Karzai said that he was in regular dialogue with the Taliban - "[They] are in contact with me every day," he said.

Image caption Every morning Hamid Karzai walks to his office in the presidential compound in Kabul, surrounded by body guards and armoured vehicles
Image caption Mr Karzai is preparing to move out of the presidential palace with his young family
Image caption The outgoing Afghan president says he is in regular dialogue with the Taliban

"There is even an exchange of letters, meetings, and desire for peace.

"[But they were] not able to bring peace on their own, just like I and the Afghan people and government were unable to bring peace on their own."

Afghans voted in run-off polls in the presidential election on 14 June. Mr Karzai is expected to hand power to his successor in August.

He said his country needed continued international support where it did not have the means to sustain itself.

Succession battle

But Mr Karzai said that the key thing when it came to the protection of Afghanistan was the work of Afghans.

Our correspondent says that the Afghan government has refused to take up a US offer of a strategic pact with the US after 2014.

However, the two men vying to succeed him as president - former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and ex-World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani - have both said that they will sign such a deal.

That could help Afghanistan avoid some of the worst of what is happening in Iraq, our correspondent says.

Unsigned security deal - main points

Jurisdiction: US forces remaining after 2014 reportedly to receive immunity from Afghan courts

Sovereignty: In October 2013, President Karzai appeared to have secured US agreement not to carry out attacks on Afghan soil without first consulting the Afghan authorities

Security: The US said in October 2013 that it would not protect Afghanistan from external attack because it could get mired in a war with Pakistan

Q&A: Foreign forces in Afghanistan

The president said that he was convinced that previous US President George W Bush's "war on terror" in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in 2001 should not have been fought in Afghan villages and homes.

In an apparent reference to Pakistan, he said it should have been prosecuted in "sanctuaries beyond our borders."

"I believe that the war on terror was not fought with honesty and not fought genuinely," he said. "The consequences are being felt across the region."

Mr Karzai, who has served two terms as Afghanistan's first and only president since the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001, is obliged by law to stand down after the latest election.

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