Time for Karzai, Obama to honour pledges
KABUL (PAN): Political groups, welcoming the United States' commitments to Afghanistan during President Hamid Karzai's three-day trip, said on Saturday the time had come for leadership of the two countries to take practical steps to honour their pledges.
The main opposition alliance called the just-concluded presidential trip very important in deciding the fate of Afghans, urging both sides to fully implement their vows.
Afghanistan National Front (ANF) spokesman Faizullah Zaki said US President Barack Obama's emphasis on a free and fair presidential ballot during meetings with Karzai gave Afghan politicians a new hope for a politically stable Afghanistan.
He also welcomed President Karzai's remarks about his future role in politics. Karzai categorically ruled out jumping into the electoral fray for a third term as president, saying he would be happy with the tag of a retired president.
Zaki said the main question about how many troops would stay in Afghanistan beyond the 2014 exit of foreign troops remained unresolved between the two sides as of Saturday. He said parliaments of the two countries should consult each other on the presence of US forces in Afghanistan after 2014.
Right and Justice Party member Mohammad Hanif Atmar said Karzai's visit had been successful so far amid challenging atmosphere.
The former interior minister said Karzai was able to win US confidence over issues concerning equipment for Afghan security forces, transfer of all detention facilities to Afghan control and an agreement on the opening of a Taliban liaison office for peace talks in Qatar.
"An accelerated security transition can have negative consequences, foreign troops should not leave Afghanistan ahead of the scheduled exit plan because the Afghans will need their support for security during next presidential election," Atmar said.
Afghanistan's National Coalition (ANC) secretary Mohammad Asim said that the transfer of prisons to Afghan control and the injection of foreign aid to Afghan government's budget dominated the ongoing talks between the two sides.
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