Karzai sworn in as Afghanistan president

Kabul, December 7 2004 - Hamid Karzai was sworn in as Afghanistan's first popularly elected president on Tuesday, promising to bring peace to the war-torn nation and end the economy's dependence on narcotics.

The inauguration passed off peacefully despite threats by guerrillas from the former Taliban regime that they would disrupt H.E. President Karzai's investiture, the culmination of his victory in Afghanistan's first democratic presidential poll on October 9.

"With international cooperation we can root out terrorism from Afghanistan," the President said.

"The relationship between terrorism and narcotics however and the threat of extremism in the region...is a source of continued concern," he said, referring to worries over Afghanistan being the world's main supplier of heroin.

He vowed that disarming private militias, fighting the drugs trade, stamping out corruption and forging national unity among Afghanistan's different ethnic groups and tribes would be his goals over the next five years.

Representatives from 27 foreign delegations attended the President's oath-taking, including U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special adviser Lakhdar Brahimi, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavron, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh, Pakistan's Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao and the presidents of neighbouring Kazakhstan and Tajikistan.