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Afghan Government Gets Down to Business

The new Afghan leader Hamid Karzai and his administration started on their enormous task on Sunday: to rebuild a country ravaged by 23 years of war. The international community says it will help Karzai.

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Hamid Karzai took the oath as interim prime minister on Saturday

Saturday's festivities over, Afghanistan's new government on Sunday got down to work. Hamid Karzai's administration held its first meeting on Sunday after it was sworn in the day before. The discussions at the cabinet meeting focussed on security.

Karzai unveiled a 13-point plan to rebuild Afghanistan and paid homage to warriors who toppled the Taliban.

The new Afghan leader is faced with an enormous task: he has to bring peace to a country divided by decades of conflict. And he has to rebuild a nation faced with poverty and despair.

Karzai warned that without billions of dollars of aid, his inauguration as Afghanistan's new leader on Saturday would count for nothing.

The World Bank and the United Nations estimate that Afghanistan will need ten billion euro ($ 9 billion) in aid over the next five years to rebuild after two decades of war.

"There is really no area in which Afghanistan does not require assistance," Karzai said after his inauguration.

International support

Political leaders from around the world welcomed the first peaceful handover of power in Afghanistan in 28 years.

German chancellor Gerhard Schröder congratulated Hamid Karzai and pledged support for the new administration.

U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher expressed content with the change of power in Kabul. He said it was the result of many efforts of Afghans and the international community.

Russia's foreign ministry said this marked the start of a process to create a peaceful Afghanistan, free from terrorism and drugs. Russia said it was prepared to help the rebuild country.

Interim government

Karzai's administration is only to stay in power for six months. Meanwhile, a traditional assembly of Afghan elders will set up another government to run the country until elections two years later.

Different Afghan factions agreed on the Karzai administration at a conference in Germany last month.

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