Hamid Karzai alleges US,Taliban are colluding

Afghan president says March 10 attack demonstrate international forces will still be needed to keep the peace after their current combat mission ends in 2014.

Written by Associated Press | Kabul | Published: March 11, 2013 12:49:35 am

Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Sunday accused the Taliban and the US of working in concert to convince Afghans that violence will worsen if most foreign troops leave — an allegation the top American commander in Afghanistan rejected as “categorically false.’’

Karzai said two suicide bombings that killed 19 people on Saturday — one outside the Afghan Defence Ministry and the other near a police checkpoint in eastern Khost province — show the insurgent group is conducting attacks to demonstrate that international forces will still be needed to keep the peace after their current combat mission ends in 2014.

“The explosions in Kabul and Khost yesterday showed that they are at the service of America and at the service of this phrase: 2014. They are trying to frighten us into thinking that if the foreigners are not in Afghanistan,we would be facing these sorts of incidents,’’ he said during a nationally televised speech about the state of Afghan women.

Karzai is known for making incendiary comments in his public speeches,a tactic that is often attributed to him trying to appeal to Taliban sympathisers or to gain leverage when he feels his international allies are ignoring his country’s sovereignty.

US and NATO forces commander Gen Joseph Dunford said Karzai had never expressed such views to him. “We have fought too hard over the past 12 years,we have shed too much blood over the last 12 years,to ever think that violence or instability would be to our advantage,’’ Dunford said.

Karzai’s latest comments come during US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel’s first visit to Afghanistan since becoming the Pentagon chief,a trip made in part to meet with Karzai. Hours after Karzai’s speech,their joint news conference was cancelled by officials citing security concerns,though officials said the two men still planned to meet privately.

Karzai said in his speech that any foreign powers that want to keep troops in Afghanistan need to do so under conditions set forward by Afghanistan.“We will tell them where we need them,and under which conditions. They must respect our laws. They must respect the national sovereignty of our country and must respect all our customs,’’ Karzai said.

Karzai offered no proof of coordination,but said the Taliban and the US were in “daily negotiations’’ in various foreign countries and noted that the US has said that it no longer considers the insurgent group its enemy.

Karzai said he did not believe the Taliban’s claim that they launched Saturday’s attacks to show they are still a potent force fighting the US.

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