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Iran Press TV

‘Karzai: US, Taliban attack civilians’

Iran Press TV

Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:25AM GMT

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai has accused American troops and the Taliban militants of attacking civilians in the war-torn country, Press TV reports.

During a Tuesday visit to southern province of Helmand, Karzai once again slammed US double standards for holding secret talks with Taliban militants in certain Persian Gulf states and Europe.

"Both Taliban and Americans drink tea and eat chocolate together, but they come and attack civilians in Afghanistan," Karzai was quoted as saying.

The comments came a day after the commander of the US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan Joseph Dunford rejected the recent remarks by Karzai that Taliban and the US officials are working together to destabilize the war-torn country.

"President Karzai has never said to me that the United States was colluding with the Taliban. All I can do is speak for the coalition to tell you that it's categorically false, and that we have no reason to be colluding with the Taliban," Dunford said. "We have no reason to be supporting instability in Afghanistan," he added.

On Sunday, Karzai has said US officials and Taliban militant group are jointly seeking to destabilize Afghanistan to justify the presence of foreign forces in the country.

Karzai also added that talks are under way on a daily basis "between Taliban, American and foreigners in Europe and in the (Persian) Gulf states."

Referring to two Taliban bombings in Kabul and Khost which killed 17 people on Saturday, the Afghan president said that "Those bombs … were not a show of force to America. They were in service of America. It was in the service of the 2014 slogan to warn us if they (Americans) are not here then Taliban will come."

The attacks show "that Taliban want longer presence of foreigners -- not their departure from Afghanistan," Karzai said.

Many civilians have lost their lives in US-led operations in various parts of Afghanistan over the past months, with Afghans becoming increasingly outraged at the seemingly endless number of the deadly assaults.

The issue of civilian casualties in Afghanistan is highly sensitive and has been a major source of friction between Afghan government and the United States.

The United States currently has 66,000 troops in Afghanistan, down from about 100,000 in 2010. The US has announced plans to decrease its troop level to about 32,000 by early 2014.

DB/HN



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