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Afghan President may introduce conscription

The Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, is looking at introducing conscription to build an army big enough to provide internal security without international help.

Mr Karzai told a conference of the world's top defence officials in Munich yesterday that he wants to build an army and police force of 300,000 by 2012 to provide security for Afghanistan by 2015 without international help.

Within five years, "Afghanistan should be able to provide security for its people so we are no longer a burden on the shoulders of the international community", he said, although he conceded international troops may still be needed for the "war on terrorism".

His comments are in stark contrast to those made last week by Afghanistan's Defence Minister, General Abdul Rahim Wardak, who said the army had no shortage of recruits and that there was no need to force people to serve. The Afghan National Army has 97,000 troops and the Afghan National Police has 94,000 officers.