News / Asia

Afghan Officials Give Obama Speech Mixed Reviews

Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during a news conference in Kabul, Jan. 25, 2014.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during a news conference in Kabul, Jan. 25, 2014.
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VOA News
Politicians and peace negotiators from Afghanistan gave mixed reactions to parts of U.S. President Barack Obama's State of the Union address dealing with the future of U.S. troops in the country.

Obama said the United States is prepared to leave a small force in Afghanistan to help train and assist Afghan troops.

In a statement Wednesday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he considered  Obama's speech to be positive. Karzai said there is no deadline for signing the bilateral security agreement and with patience and hard work both countries can contribute to the start of peace efforts.

Former Afghan Prime Minister Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai, who is attending a conference in Islamabad, told VOA he does not think part of the international force should be left behind to train Afghan soldiers.

"If American or Western countries want to train Afghan soldiers that should be done in another separate agreement not including the existing American or NATO forces in Afghanistan," he said. "Even if [a] very small number of forces are there and agreed on, they will do what they want. And the things they want to do are not in the interest of the Afghan nation."

Ghairat Baheer, a spokesman for an Afghan insurgent group, says American forces should withdraw from Afghanistan "completely and unconditionally".

"Even if they are asking for the presence of their limited soldiers in Afghanistan through BSA [Bilateral Security Agreement] I think it is again a mistake, because even a limited number of their troops in Afghanistan their presence will be naturally the continuation of war in Afghanistan," Baheer said.

Maulana Shhzada Shahid, spokesman for Afghanistan's High Peace Council, says before international forces withdraw he would like to see the start of the reconciliation process.

"The people do not want the war to continue whether the Americans stay or leave," Shahid said. "So, the High Peace Council believes that the withdrawal of Americans is one part of the issue. But we wish that before their departure the process of reconciliation and talks also starts."

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