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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Karzai demands NATO stay in major bases by year's end

In a double blow to the NATO mission in Afghanistan Karzai demanded that the U.S. confine its troops to major bases by 2013 and the Taliban have suspended ongoing peace talks. Both the U.S. and NATO have been trying to arrange talks with the Taliban for two years and the recent talks showed some signs of progress. However the Taliban have as a condition of an agreement that NATO forces withdraw.
The Karzai declaration would hasten the transition to Afghans taking control for security but it would also prevent any attempts by the U.S. and special forces to attack the Taliban and increase village security.
The Taliban have withdrawn from talks because they claim the U.S. has changed preconditions for the talks. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has just left Afghanistan after two days of talks including with president Karzai. Apparently Karzai's statement was a surprise. NATO and the U.S. will be furious. However, Karzai has been at loggerheads with NATO and the U.S. rather often. He may very well back down or more likely just not carry through with his demand. In his meeting with Panetta, Karzai did not bring up the issue of the transfer of the soldier accused in the killing spree to Kuwait. Afghan legislators have demanded he be tried in Afghanistan.

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