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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
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 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.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs