WASHINGTON (PAN): United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon Friday congratulated Hamid Karzai on being sworn into for the second term as president of


A spokeswoman for the secretary general said that Ban welcomed the commitment of Karzai to serve all Afghans, fight corruption and provide good governance, security and services, as expressed in the president's inaugural speech.

Michele Montas told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York: "In pursuance of realising these goals concretely, the United Nations looks forward to working with President Karzai and his government, the people of Afghanistan and Afghanistan's international partners."

In Washington, Defence Secretary Robert Gates acknowledged it was going to be a tough fight. The exit strategy was not going to be in the immediate future, he said, adding: "We are not going to go from a situation where we have a fair amount of dissatisfaction now, to believing that these problems have been solved in two weeks or a month, or on the basis of a single speech."

The secretary met visiting German Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg at the Pentagon, where the two leaders discussed the current situation in Afghanistan. Germany has more than 4,000 troops in Afghanistan.

Later in a speech at the CSIS, a Washington-based think-tank, the German minister aid his government wanted immediate results from the Karzai administration. The time had come to demand accountability and transparency from Karzai, he stressed. "He needs to act; smile alone is not going to work."

Guttenberg said Germany, maintaining the current number of about 4,500 troops, was awaiting President Obama's decision regarding the way ahead in Afghanistan. Germany, too, was concerned about allegations of corruption in Karzai's government.




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