Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that his government is negotiating the terms of a long-term US presence in his country that could involve US troops.
The United States is withdrawing 10,000 troops this year, leaving 91,000 on the ground into next year. Another 23,000 are due to leave by the end of September.
That will mark the end of the “surge” ordered by President Barack Obama in late 2009 in a bid to reverse the Taliban insurgency, defeat Al-Qaeda and speed up an end to the war, with some 68,000 US forces left on the ground.
“We are negotiating with the United States towards an enduring partnership,” Karzai said on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS.”
“That may bring about the presence of some US troops in Afghanistan for the duration of the agreement that we reach, with support to Afghanistan, with training and equipping the Afghan forces.”
But he cautioned that troop levels would depend on the specifics of any agreement reached.
The US-led international coalition has “been able to provide in the past 10 years political stability to Afghanistan,” Karzai said.
But he stressed that the US and Afghan governments have been unable “to provide the Afghan people with their individual personal security. That is yet to come.”
Karzai, interviewed from Kabul, also said he could not hold peace talks with the Taliban unless the insurgents produce a verifiable authorized representative.
The September assassination of Afghan peace negotiator Burhanuddin Rabbani “brought us in a shock to the recognition that we were actually talking to nobody, that those who came in the name of the peace process were assassins, were killers, were terrorists rather than negotiators,” he said.
Don’t you just love the above pic?