News

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
Comments
     
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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs