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Afghan President: Reconstruction Teams Have to Go

Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during a press conference in Kabul, February 08, 2011

Afghan President Hamid Karzai says foreign reconstruction teams will have to leave the country as the government takes charge of security.

Mr. Karzai told reporters in Kabul Tuesday that development programs should come under Afghan control as part of the transition process.

He also compared the provincial reconstruction teams to plumbers, saying once the job is done, it is time for them to leave.

Mr. Karzai has been critical of the reconstruction teams before, calling them parallel institutions that undermine the government's influence.

The Afghan president also said the United States is seeking to establish permanent bases in Afghanistan. He said his government is negotiating with U.S. officials about the details of a possible long-term agreement.

The Afghan president told a conference in Germany Sunday that Afghanistan will begin to take over security responsibility from international forces March 21. He said he is "determined to demonstrate Afghan leadership and ownership of the transition process."

NATO has set 2014 as the deadline for Afghan forces to take full responsibility for the country's security.