Rasmussen spurns Karzai remarks as ridiculous
KABUL (PAN): The NATO secretary-general on Monday hit back at President Hamid Karzai for his remarks that the US and the alliance were colluding with the Taliban to pave the way for foreign soldiers’ stay in the war-weary country.
Last week, President Karzai told a gathering of tribal elders and youth in southern Helmand province the West was out to engineer an agreement between the Taliban insurgents and his political foes.
But Anders Fogh Rasmussen, spurning the presidential comments as ridiculous, said: “We fully respect the sovereignty of Afghanistan. But we would also expect acknowledgment from the Afghan side that we have actually invested a lot in blood and treasure in helping Afghanistan move forward.”
Speaking to reporters in Brussels, he voiced concern at the testy exchanges between Karzai and the US -- the largest contributor to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.
The diplomat also referred to his visit to Kabul, where he met senior leaders including President Karzai. He also met NATO-led troops in Helmand. “What I saw (in Helmand) was a significant shift.”
The Afghan National Army and police, in charge of security for three quarters of the restive province, were already conducting almost all operations, he added.
In his opening remarks, the secretary general indicated the next two years leading up to ISAF’s withdrawal could see hard fighting, casualties and setbacks.
“But already, Afghan forces are stronger than they have been at any other moment in history. They will continue to grow stronger, more effective and more experienced. And we are determined to support them through 2014, and beyond,” he said.
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