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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora