News / USA

Karzai Stresses End to Civilian Casualties During Gates' Farewell Afghan Tour

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, left, speaks during a joint news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, right, at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, June 4, 2011.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, left, speaks during a joint news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, right, at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, June 4, 2011.
Sean Maroney

Afghan President Hamid Karzai welcomed outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates to Kabul Saturday with a mixture of praise for his commitment to Afghanistan and frustrated rhetoric ordering an end to coalition-caused civilian casualties. Gates is in the country on a previously unannounced farewell tour before he leaves office later this month.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai welcomed outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates shortly after his arrival Saturday in Afghanistan.

Mr. Karzai said Gates is a “friend” of the country and presented him with its highest governmental award, the Wazir Akbar Khan medal, for his work during the past four-and-a-half years.

But President Karzai also took the opportunity to voice several times the Afghans' frustration over civilian deaths resulting from coalition air strikes on homes. “[The] bombardment of civilian homes is an issue that the Afghans definitely want to end. We cannot take this anymore, and the Afghans want a change in it," he said.

Late last month, a NATO air strike on a home killed 14 Afghans, including women and children. The incident agitated the long-simmering tensions regarding the issue between the Afghans and coalition and caused Mr. Karzai to proclaim what he called his “last warning” to NATO on ending the strikes.

Speaking alongside President Karzai in a garden at the presidential palace Saturday evening, Gates expressed Washington's profound regret for the cost of this nearly 10-year war. “There is weariness in both our countries over the duration and cost of this conflict. I am keenly aware that ISAF military operations have at times impacted the Afghan people in unwelcome ways, from minor, but grating inconveniences to, in some rare but tragic cases, civilians accidentally killed or injured -- losses we mourn and profoundly regret," he said.

However, Gates had his own stern message for the Afghan government as the coalition prepares to start handing over security duties next month. “While the international commitment here is strong and durable, that commitment is not infinite in either time or resources. For the upcoming transition to be successful, the Afghan government and security forces must be willing to step up and take more and more responsibility for governing and defending their own territory," he said.

President Karzai's administration has long faced accusations of government corruption, undermining his rule both domestically and on the international stage.

But because of the recent security gains following a surge of coalition troops during the past year and a half, Gates said at a security conference in Singapore earlier Saturday that he thought he saw an end in sight to the Afghan war. “If we can further expand the security bubble, we have enough evidence that the Taliban are under pressure and that their capabilities are being degraded that perhaps this winter the possibility of some kind of political talks or reconciliation might  be substantive enough to offer some hope of progress," he said.

While on his last official visit to Afghanistan as U.S. defense secretary, Gates is expected to meet with U.S. and Afghan troops.

Later in the week, he heads to Brussels for a NATO security conference, which is expected to focus in part on the situation in Afghanistan.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid