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Report: Karzai Objects to US Plan for Villagers

A prominent U.S. newspaper is reporting the new U.S. and NATO military commander in Afghanistan is meeting with resistance from Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The Washington Post
reported Saturday the first meeting between U.S. General David Petraeus and President Karzai "turned tense" after the Afghan president renewed his objections to a plan to recruit villagers into local defense programs.

The local defense programs are a key component of the U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan. The Washington Post said Mr. Karzai's objection to the plan poses an early challenge to Petraeus, who is trying to establish a collaborative relationship with the Afghan leader.

On Friday, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said NATO troops will begin transferring security responsibility to local forces in three to four Afghan provinces next year.

Westerwelle said at least one of the affected provinces would be in the north, where German troops are deployed.

The minister said Germany is committed to Afghanistan so that Afghans can provide stability for themselves. German leaders say they want to begin bringing troops home by 2013.

Also on Friday, NATO said it has accepted "full responsibility" for accidentally killing six civilians and wounding several others in eastern Afghanistan Thursday.

The alliance said the bodies had been removed before its investigation of the site in Jani Khel.

The initial report said one Afghan civilian was killed and seven others were wounded, but that it was not clear who was responsible.

The coalition says a full investigation is ongoing.

NATO has offered its "sincere condolences" to the families of the civilians.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.