Afghans to decide on US military bases: Karzai
At a recent meeting on long-term strategic cooperation, US officials asked their Afghan counterparts for a permanent military presence in the conflict-torn country, raising concerns among Afghanistan's neighbours.
Parliament and other government organisations would take a final decision on the important national security issue, Karzai said at a joint news conference with Croatian PresidentIvoJosipovicin Kabul.
"Afghans can no longer afford war, killing of villagers in counterterrorism operations and nighttime raids on their houses," he said, stressing that peace and stability, as well as a decision on US bases, should be a priority for lawmakers.
"Neighbours' opinion is important to us. I just heard about a press release from the Russian foreign ministry. We live in a region where is security is not good. We would make a decision on the basis of ground realities and Afghanistan's interests."
In a statement, the ministry in Moscow asked: "Will Kabul be able to combine negotiations on a long-term American military presence with the reconciliation process? How will Afghanistan's neighbours view the deployment of a foreign country's military bases near their territory?"
Commenting on "irresponsible operations" by foreign troops, the president referred to the recent arrest of an Al-Biruni University teacher in central Kapisa province. "We are very upset by such acts."
The transition to Afghan security lead would be completed by 2014 and there would be no problem in the process, the president said, highlighting his administration's desire to take control of all security operations.
Karzai said Croatia had 329 soldiers in Afghanistan and assisted his country in diverse areas such as economy and health. However, he sought more assistance, including scholarships for Afghan students.
Josipovicsaid they discussed a wide range of issues, including security, education, health and economy. Croatia supported efforts by the international community to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan, he added.
He viewed 2014 as an important milestone for the Afghans, promising that Croatia would continue to extend military, education and economic assistance to the war-devastated country.
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