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Sarkozy wishes Afghans 'stability and prosperity' ahead of vote

world Updated: Aug 19, 2009 22:57 IST
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French President Nicolas Sarkozy wished his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai "stability and prosperity," in a letter released on Wednesday on the eve of the war-torn country's presidential vote.

Sarkozy wrote to Western-backed Karzai ahead of Afghan independence day on August 19, which commemorates the formal end in 1919 of Britain's bid to conquer the country after its troops suffered a third defeat on Afghan soil.

"On the occasion of Afghanistan's independence day, I have the honour of sending you my sincere congratulations and my wishes for stability and prosperity for Afghanistan's young democracy, which in this electoral period is at a particularly crucial point in its history," Sarkozy wrote.

"The violence of recent weeks shows that the terrorists are afraid of democracy and the will of the Afghan people," he added in the letter dated August 17 and released on Wednesday by his office.

The Islamist Taliban militia have been waging a bloody countdown to the country's second presidential election, with gunmen striking inside the heavily guarded Afghan capital on Wednesday in the latest attacks.

"France is more than ever at the side of Afghanistan to win this struggle for freedom, democracy, peace and security," said the French leader, whose country has some 2,900 men in the international coalition in Afghanistan.

"It will remain so for as long as necessary," Sarkozy added, underscoring his decision two years ago to "substantially boost France's military, civilian and political commitment in Afghanistan."

Sarkozy said the election campaign had proved the "vitality of the democratic process launched in 2001," and "the political maturity and the sharp interest of Afghan citizens in debating their future."

"The next Afghan government will naturally be able to count on the full support of the international community, and first and foremost of France."

Appointed by the Western coalition in 2001, and elected in 2004, Karzai is tipped to hold on to power in Thursday's vote despite a chequered record on battling insecurity and corruption.