Karzai Urges NATO Withdrawal From Afghan Villages

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai (R) meets with U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in Kabul, March 15, 2012.
Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai (R) meets with U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in Kabul, March 15, 2012.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is calling for NATO forces to pull back from Afghan villages and relocate to their bases following the killing of 16 civilians in southern Afghanistan earlier this week, allegedly by a U.S. soldier.

Karzai's statement Thursday came as the Taliban announced it was suspending peace talks with the United States until "the Americans clarify their stance on the issues," including a prisoner swap. The U.S. reportedly was holding preliminary talks in Qatar with the insurgent group to find a political settlement to the decade-long war, as international troops begin leaving Afghanistan.

Karzai told visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that the Afghan government wants to take full control of the country's security in 2013 rather than 2014, as planned. During Thursday's talks in Kabul, he told Panetta, "Afghanistan is ready to take over all security responsibilities now."

The Afghan leader also demanded NATO pull out of Afghanistan's rural areas following Sunday's alleged massacre of 16 Afghan civilians, including children, by a U.S. soldier in Kandahar province. The soldier later surrendered.

A U.S. defense official later downplayed Karzai's call for NATO's withdrawal from village outposts, saying "right now, there's no reason to think that schedule should change and President Karzai did not ask for any change in the current schedule."

Karzai also told Panetta that everything must be done to prevent incidents such as the shooting spree in the future. The U.S. defense secretary said he promised the Afghan president that the gunman would be brought to justice.  

The U.S. staff sergeant, who has not yet been named or charged, was flown out of Afghanistan to Kuwait late Wednesday. U.S. Lieutenant General Curtis Scaparotti, the deputy commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said the suspect was moved to ensure "both proper pre-trial confinement and access to legal services."

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Captain John Kirby, said the transfer did not necessarily mean the suspect's trial would not be held in Afghanistan, as many Afghans have demanded.

In the southern city of Qalat, protesters chanted anti-American slogans Thursday, calling for justice and a public trial in Afghanistan for the accused U.S. soldier.

The U.S. defense secretary arrived in Afghanistan on Wednesday, just three days after the killings.

After talks with Karzai on Thursday, Panetta said he was confident that the United States and Afghanistan will reach a deal on the long-term U.S. presence in the country after international combat troops leave Afghanistan in 2014.  

Panetta told reporters he was optimistic that the two governments will reach an agreement on the issue of night raids, a major obstacle in the proposed U.S.-Afghan strategic deal. Karzai wants an end to such coalition operations, which he says cause civilian casualties.

Separately, Afghan officials say at least 10 women and children were killed Thursday when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in the southern province of Uruzgan.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Charlie
March 16, 2012 9:02 AM
For Kamal, haven't you forgotten to mention the Taliban's activities.?

by: Kamal
March 15, 2012 11:01 PM
U.S. must get out of Afghanistan, now! You have not business here! Savage murderers!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video In Cambodian Capital, Political Motives Seen Behind Canceled Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle reports from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs