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Afghanistan readies for new era

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Delegates and observers are gathering in Kabul for Saturday's swearing-in of a new interim government -- a ceremony that will officially end Taliban rule in Afghanistan.

Among them is leader designate Hamid Karzai, chosen to lead his country during talks in Bonn earlier in the month and who arrived in the Afghan capital Friday.

Carrying the blessings of exiled king Mohammad Zahir Shah, Karzai will head the 30-member interim government that includes representatives of several Afghan factions.

The task ahead for the new administration is enormous. Despite international backing and financial support, rebuilding the conflict-riddled nation remains a daunting task.

Maintaining a harmonious balance of the various Afghan factions will also be tough. Prior to Taliban rule, bickering and internal power-struggles had dogged Afghan politics.

Rebuild from scratch

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Added to the equation is the continuing U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan.

U.S. officials have said the war against terrorism in the Asian country is far from over with American. troops joining anti-Taliban forces in the pursuit of al Qaeda and Taliban senior figures.

In that respect, the designate leader said he felt the "weight of responsibility" with his new role but added his country would see that "the fight against terrorism is taken to its end, its absolute end."

Karzai, also said he would tackle terrorism, "warlordism" and the rule of the gun in a country he has to rebuild almost from scratch.

"I am very, very determined...Terrorism has made our people suffer unbelievably difficult times," he told Reuters Television.

He would look to the peacekeeping force to help him restore stability and safety to a country riven by two decades of war, he said.

Karzai also said he would be happy with a foreign peacekeeping force of any size necessary to benefit his country.

Bin Laden trial

"They have killed us," he said of the ousted Taliban and their foreign allies in Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.

"They have destroyed our orchards. They have destroyed our vineyards. They tried to destroy Afghanistan.

"They tried to destroy the essence of Afghans. I am very determined to get rid of them, not only in Afghanistan but in the rest of the world too."

Karzai said he would try Osama bin Laden if he was captured.

Asked where he would like to see the prime suspect in the September 11 attacks put on trial, Karzai said:

"Anywhere. Anywhere that he can see the evils that he has done to the people of the world and to the Afghan people, that the Afghan people finally get some justice for what he and his friend Mullah Omar did to Afghanistan and to the rest of the world," he said, referring also to the fugitive Taliban leader.


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