The Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said that the “withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan is good for security.”
Speaking at the opening day of a conference to develop Afghanistan’s foreign policy strategy for the next three years organised in Kabul on Saturday, he said that the US and Nato troops transferring security to Afghan forces should leave Afghan villages as soon as possible.
Karzai said he wants the international troops to leave Afghan villages, draw back to their bases and slowly withdraw from there.
“In Afghanistan’s view, the war against terrorism is not in Afghanistan’s villages and streets; rather, attention should have focused on terrorist safe havens. That’s where the problem lies,” Karzai said.
The sooner the transition can be completed, the better, Karzai emphasized.
He said Afghan security forces will take security lead in the entire nation by 2013, while international forces will end their combat mission at the end of 2014.
“Our relationship with the world will change, and that means the presence of foreign troops should be predicated on deep strategic, not tactical and combat basis.”
President Karzai also expressed his condolences on the deaths in a US school shooting in which 27, including 20 students, were killed.
His comments on the withdrawal of international troops come as he is scheduled to meet the US President Barack Obama in January and discuss the security agreement between the two countries.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had announced Thursday during his visit in Kabul that President Karzai agreed to meet with President Obama at the White House during the week of Jan. 7.
The meeting is scheduled as Obama decides how many US will remain in Afghanistan after combat operations end at the end of 2014.
The Associated Press has reported that officials are looking at a number between 6,000 and 10,000; there are currently about 68,000 US troops in Afghanistan.