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US wants new ties with Afghans

LONDON, Oct 12 – The United States would want a "new relationship" with Hamid Karzai if he is re-elected as Afghan president, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday.

She underlined how "helpful" Karzai has been and the progress made under his government since the 2001 US-led invasion of the country, but declined to be drawn on the outcome of disputed and fraud-tainted elections.

"Mr Karzai has been very helpful on many fronts. We often overlook the progress that’s been made in Afghanistan because of the serious challenges that still exist," she told BBC radio.

"We are very clear that, if this election results in his being re-elected, there must be a new relationship between him and the people of Afghanistan, and between his government and the governments of countries like yours and mine," she told the British broadcaster.

She described the situation as "complex" following the elections in August, which have been overshadowed by the fraud allegations, mostly aimed at Karzai, Washington’s tainted ally.

"Clearly we expect more, we are going to be working toward more, and we are anxiously awaiting the final outcome of the election," she said.

The UN special representative to Afghanistan, Kai Eide, acknowledged Sunday for the first time that the country’s presidential election had been tainted by "significant" and "widespread" fraud.

Karzai leads preliminary results with about 55 percent of the vote, against his nearest rival Abdullah Abdullah, who is on 28 percent.

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