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

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography 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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid