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.
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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fairi
X
Brian Padden
May 29, 2015 1:27 PM
With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
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 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 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.

VOA Blogs