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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs