Reduce military operations: Karzai to US

“The time has come to reduce military operations,” Karzai said. “The time has come to reduce the presence of, you know, boots in Afghanistan ... to reduce the intrusiveness into the daily Afghan life,” Karzai told “The Washington Post”.

“It’s not desirable for the Afghan people either to have 100,000 or more foreign troops going around the country endlessly,” he said.

Karzai said the increased US Special Operations forces night raids could aggravate sufferings of Afghans and exacerbate the Taliban insurgency. He said Afghan troops are ready to take more responsibility for their own security. He said foreign troops should limit themselves to necessary operations along the Pakistani border.

His comments placed him at odds with US commander Gen David H Petraeus, who has made capture-and-kill missions a central component of his counter-insurgency strategy, and who claims that the 30,000 new troops have made substantial progress in beating back the insurgency, the “Post” said.

Karzai’s comments also came as American officials played down the importance of July 2011 — the date US President Brack Obama set to begin withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan — in favour of a combat mission ending in 2014, it said.

Karzai said he was speaking out not to criticise the United States but in the belief that candour could improve what he called a “grudging” relationship between the countries.

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