Karzai's assertion is false: US, NATO
WASHINGTON/KABUL (PAN): Reacting to President Hamid Karzai's recent remarks that the Americans and the Taliban are colluding, the White House and the NATO top commander in Afghanistan said "the assertion is categorically false."
Karzai has said during a speech to participants of a gathering marking the international women's day in Kabul that US and Taliban representatives were working together to prolong the war in his country. He said the two sides held talks on a daily basis in Qatar and Europe.
“That is categorically false, and nobody believes it. Any suggestion the United States is colluding with the Taliban is categorically false,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said told reporters.
He said defence secretary Chuck Hagel addressed these questions directly with President Karzai in their meeting, arguing the US had spent enormous blood and treasure for the past 12 years supporting the Afghan people in the effort to ensure stability and security in that country.
“What's important to remember is we went into Afghanistan because we were attacked from Afghanistan. We went into Afghanistan, and the President (Barack Obama) made sure that we refocused on this goal when he reviewed Afghan policy upon becoming president in order to go after those who attacked the United States, go after those who killed Americans, to go after Al Qaida central, which had taken haven in Afghanistan,” he said.
In Kabul, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force commander Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford said of Karzai’s implication: "It’s categorically false.,
Dunford, who accompanied Hagel during his visit to Kabul, said: “We have fought too hard over the past 12 years. We have shed too much blood .... have done too much to help the Afghan security forces grow over the last 12 years to ever think that violence or instability would be to our advantage. That's clearly not where we are right now. And I would say that emphatically.”
On withdrawing special operations forces from central Maidan Wardak, the general said he spoke to President Karzai immediately after his announcement and pledged to work very closely with Afghan security forces to develop a transition plan for the province.
“As recently as last night, I saw President Karzai, and I told him that we're still working with his leadership to address the situation in Wardak and we would come back to him with a plan,” Dunford said.
He said the province would transition to Afghan national security forces, but the only remaining issues were the timeline and the methodology. “And we're still working on that,” he said, adding the province west of Kabul has to be understood in the broader context of transition.
Dunford noted the Parwan Detention Centre reflected another range of viewpoints. Karzai has indicated he would prefer to release some of the detainees, while Dunford said his own perspective as a commander was that he needed to be satisfied that there's a plan in place to ensure that those people who need to be off the battlefield for us to accomplish the mission and protect the force are, in fact, detained.”
Last week, some issues surfaced that still need to be resolved, he said. “I won't address the differences right now,” he added. “We're in the middle of a negotiation. It's very sensitive, and what I don't want to do is negotiate in public. That's never a wise thing to do.”
Dunford said he’s not willing to do anything that might jeopardise his relationship with his Afghan counterparts, which, he said, “is actually the most important thing to me over the next 22 or 23 months.
“So when it comes to negotiations and those kinds of things,” he continued, “I can't share the details with you. I will when we resolve it and tell you what we worked through.”
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