News / USA

Secret Afghan Talks Frustrate US Officials

FILE - Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during a news conference in Kabul, Jan. 25, 2014.
FILE - Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during a news conference in Kabul, Jan. 25, 2014.
TEXT SIZE - +
Kent Klein
— Reports that Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been holding secret peace talks with Taliban officials led to high-level meetings in Washington Tuesday.  U.S. officials are again calling on the Afghan leader to sign an agreement to allow U.S. troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond this year.

President Barack Obama met with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and other military commanders at the White House Tuesday. They were expected to discuss a report, in The New York Times, that Karzai met with Taliban officials in Dubai three weeks ago, without consulting the United States.

The Pentagon is not confirming the reports, according to Defense Department spokesman U.S. Army Colonel Steve Warren.

“We've long said that the path to peace here is political and diplomatic and not military and I believe that we've long said that Afghans speaking to Afghans are what's going to bring about peace and stability in Afghanistan,” he said.

The Senate Armed Services Committee also met Tuesday, behind closed doors, to discuss the issue.  

Republican Senator John McCain said the Obama administration's announcement that it would conclude the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan by the end of this year was likely a factor in Karzai's reported decision to negotiate with the Taliban.  McCain said he had been told that the White House was considering withdrawing all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by 2017, when Obama leaves office.   

"President Karzai is paranoid and irrational; but, like most people with paranoia, there is a basis for that," he said. "And when he reads that the United States is planning on having everybody out by 2017, then he makes accommodations, such as trying to negotiate with the Taliban. That is completely understandable."

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama has not decided on the post-2014 U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan.  He said that decision cannot be made until the Afghan leader signs a bilateral security agreement.  

He said, "I can tell you that as each day passes and we move further into this calendar year, it becomes more imperative that the Afghan government sign the agreement that was negotiated in good faith, so that NATO and the United States can make plans for a post-2014 troop presence. Absent a signed BSA, there will be no and can be no U.S. troops beyond 2014."

The U.S. has been calling on Karzai to sign the agreement soon, to give NATO time to prepare for a post-combat role for its troops in Afghanistan.

U.S.-Afghan relations have been strained in recent months, and Karzai announced in November that he would not sign a bilateral security agreement with the U.S. until after Afghanistan's April 5 presidential election.  

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Democrat Carl Levin, said he is more interested in whether Afghanistan's next president will sign the agreement.

"My advice on this one is to simply not count on Karzai signing a bilateral security agreement, because it's obvious that he's either not or unlikely," he said. "But you don't need him to, because it's the next president, who will be more reliable than Karzai, in any event."

The Afghan leader has also released some Taliban militants from prison and accused the U.S. of war crimes.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: jimmy from: china
February 04, 2014 11:31 PM
it's really funny that karzai is playing with us. it's really good to be a president in a country as afghanistan? it seems like karzai really need that position. but i suppose it's not difficult for U.S.to arrange a new president. because U.S.troops control everything in afghanistan.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid