News

Panetta Stresses Importance of Staying Course in Afghanistan

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta speaks during a news conference after meeting with troops and Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other Afghan officials, at the airport in Kabul, March 15, 2012.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta speaks during a news conference after meeting with troops and Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other Afghan officials, at the airport in Kabul, March 15, 2012.
Brian Padden

In Kabul Thursday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai called for NATO forces to pull back from Afghan villages, following Sunday's killing of 16 civilians in southern Afghanistan, allegedly by a U.S. soldier.

Karzai reportedly told U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that he wants the Afghan forces to take full control of the country's security in 2013 rather than 2014.

But speaking to reporters in Kabul Thursday, the U.S. defense secretary said the U.S., NATO and the Afghan leadership are in agreement on the strategy to hand over security responsibility to Afghan security forces. He said control will gradually be handed over to Afghan forces beginning in 2013, culminating with the withdrawal of most American combat troops by the end of 2014.

Watch related video

“We are on the right path. I am absolutely convinced of that but the key right now is to stick to that path. And if we do anything precipitous to back away from that, I think that, in my mind, could very well jeopardize our mission,” said Panetta.

He also said President Karzai accepted the U.S. military's decision to try the U.S. soldier accused of killing 16 Afghans, many of them women and children, under U.S. military law. The killing happened on Sunday near a military base in Kandahar.

“I again pledged to him that we are proceeding with the full investigation here and that we will bring the individual involved to justice. And he accepted that and hoped that it could be a transparent process so that the Afghanistan people would see that the Unites States is indeed going to not only prosecute this individual, but ensure that he is held accountable,” Panetta said.

Some members of the Afghan parliament had demanded that the soldier be tried in Afghanistan and were incensed to learn he had been moved late Wednesday to a U.S. military detention facility in Kuwait.

The incident adds to the intense anti-American sentiment in Afghanistan following the inadvertent burning of Qurans at an American military base in February, which sparked a week of violent nationwide protests and deadly attacks on U.S. troops.

Prospects for a broad political power sharing agreement to resolve the Afghan conflict also dimmed Thursday, with the Taliban announcing it was suspending peace talks with the United States. The Taliban also said any negotiations with the Afghan government were pointless and that none had taken place.

Panetta said he remains optimistic, however, insisting progress is being made in improving the Afghan forces' operational capability. He also said he is confident the U.S. and Afghanistan will soon agree on a strategic partnership that will permit a reduced U.S. military presence after 2014 for counter-terrorism purposes and to support Afghan troops, if needed.

Both sides recently overcame a major obstacle to the partnership when the U.S. agreed to transfer control of its main military detention center to Afghanistan. Panetta says they will soon come up with an agreement to end night raids by the U.S. military raids, which have been another issue of contention.

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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs