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Karzai Sets Afghan Forces Target   
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Hamid Karzai has been sworn in as Afghan president for a second elected term, saying he wants Afghan forces in charge of the nation within five years.

In his inauguration speech, Mr Karzai also addressed the key question of corruption, saying his ministers had to be "competent and just". He announced a conference to tackle the issue as well as a national gathering to help bring peace to Afghanistan.

He also invited his defeated rivals to join him in working for peace. Kabul's streets were almost empty on Thursday as security forces set up numerous roadblocks ahead of the ceremony.

The international airport was closed, a holiday was called and people were advised to stay indoors as part of the security lockdown. Dignitaries from about 40 countries were attending the ceremony, including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

In his speech, Mr Karzai said the strength of Afghan security forces had to be bolstered and the role of international forces reduced. He said: "We hope that the Afghan forces will lead the task of security and stability throughout the country in the coming five years."

Mr Karzai addressed corruption, saying that good governance came from good management and that he would take care to ensure his ministers were "competent and just".

He said corruption was a "dangerous problem", adding: "We will soon organise a conference in Kabul to organise new and effective ways to combat this problem."

He added: "We have to learn from our mistakes and shortcomings of the last eight years." Mr Karzai also called for a loya jirga - or national gathering - to help bring peace.

He invited his main defeated rival Abdullah Abdullah to work with him "for the prosperity of Afghanistan".

Source: BBC

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