Afghanistan wants early security takeover: Karzai | News | DW | 15.03.2012
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Afghanistan wants early security takeover: Karzai

President Hamid Karzai has said he wants Afghans to assume responsibility for the nation's security in 2013. His comments came as the Taliban said they were suspending peace talks with the US.

Karzai told visiting US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that Afghanistan was ready to takeover security from international troops a year earlier than planned.

"Afghanistan is ready to take overall security responsibility," a statement from Karzai's office said. "Our demand is that this process should be executed sharply and the responsibility should be handed over to Afghans."

"Both sides must work together to complete the process of transition from the international troops to Afghan forces in 2013 rather than 2014," the statement said.

Karzai also called on the US to withdraw its troops from the country's villages, where they have outposts, and relocate them to their bases.

His demands came days after a US soldier reportedly killed 16 civilians in Kandahar province in the country's southwest.

Panetta's two-day visit, though scheduled before the killings, was seen as an opportunity to smooth over tensions between the two countries.

Also on Thursday, the Afghan Taliban said they were putting a halt to nascent peace talks with the US, because Washington's position was "shaky erratic and vague."

"The Islamic Emirate has decided to suspend all talks with Americans taking place in Qatar from [Thursday] onwards until the Americans clarify their stance on the issues concerned and until they show willingness in carrying out their promises instead of wasting time," the group said in a statement.

Taliban and US negotiators appear to have been meeting in Qatar to discuss a prisoner exchange and opening a liaison office in Doha.

ncy/pfd (AFP, Reuters, dpa)