Karzai calls for Nato-led troops to withdraw from rural areas as Taliban suspend talks with US

 

International troops should pull out of villages and rural areas to main bases, Afghanistan's president has said.

Hamid Karzai, angered by a US soldier's killing of 16 civilians, said Afghan forces should take the lead for countrywide security in 2013, ahead of the planned withdrawal of coalition troops in 2014.

And in a blow to the campaign in Afghanistan, the Taliban said it was breaking off talks with the United States, claiming the US kept changing the terms of negotiations.

In a statement after meeting visiting US defence secretary Leon Panetta, Mr Karzai said: "Afghan security forces have the ability to keep the security in rural areas and in villages on their own."

Speaking from Helmand provincial capital Lashkar Gah before Mr Karzai's statement, Lt Col Gordon Mackenzie, spokesman for Task Force Helmand, said significant progress had already been made towards handing control of security to Afghan forces.

Security in Lashkar Gah is already under Afghan control. Since New Year, large parts of the Nad-e Ali district have begun to pass into the hands of local security forces.

He added that announcements were expected from the Afghan government by May and then again in October which could see control of much of the British-controlled central Helmand transition to local forces.

Lt Col Mackenzie added: "British forces will increasingly take on a mentoring and supporting role.

"Already some troops who started this tour in traditional infantry jobs have retrained as mentors and advisors to the Afghan Police.

"This is the kind of role we will expand into as the Afghan forces increasingly take the lead on security."

In his statement, Mr Karzai said he had conveyed his demand to Mr Panetta during their meeting.

Mr Karzai spoke as Afghan MPs were expressing outrage that the US flew the soldier suspected of the civilian killings to Kuwait when they were demanding he be tried in the country.

The soldier, who has not been named, is accused of going on a shooting rampage in villages near his base in southern Afghanistan on Sunday, killing nine children and seven other civilians, and then burning some of their bodies.

Mr Karzai told Mr Panetta that the shootings in southern Afghanistan were cruel and everything must be done to prevent any such incidents in the future.

He said that was the reason he was demanding the pull-out from rural areas and early transfer of security.

President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron said in Washington yesterday that they and their Nato allies were committed to shifting to a support role in Afghanistan in 2013.

Mr Obama gave his fullest endorsement yet for the mission shift, but he said the overall plan to gradually withdraw forces and hand over security in Afghanistan will stand.

In January, after French president Nicolas Sarkozy suggested that foreign forces speed up their timetable for handing combat operations to Afghan forces in 2013, Karzai said he would be in favour of that - if it were achievable.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the insurgent group wanted to limit talks to prisoner transfers and the establishment of a political office in Qatar, but US negotiators wanted to broaden the discussion.

The Taliban did not want the Afghan government included in the talks, he said.

"Because of these American changes, the Taliban was obliged to stop the talks," Mr Mujahid said.

AP

VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Life & Style
tech
Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvRicky Gervais on the return of 'Derek' – and why he still ignores his critics
Sport
Luis Suarez of Liverpool celebrates his goal
sport
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatreReview: Of Mice and Men, Longacre Theatre
Life & Style
Infant child breast-feeding with eyes closed
healthTo stop mummy having any more babies, according to scientists
News
news
Arts & Entertainment
film
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Arts & Entertainment
Homer meets Lego Marge in the 25th anniversary episode of The Simpsons, set to air on 4 May
tv
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey gets the North Korean leader's look
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal