Afghanistan seeks early security handover: Karzai

March 16th, 2012 - 5:03 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Kabul, March 16 (IANS) The US and the Afghan governments should work together for an early handover of security responsibility, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has said.

According to a Karzai office statement, the Afghan president told visiting US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta Thursday that “both sides should work together for a security handover from international forces to Afghan troops to take place by 2013 instead of 2014″.

“The Afghan government is ready to take overall security responsibility,” Xinhua quoted Karzai as saying in the statement.

On Wednesday, US President Barack Obama said that the NATO forces in Afghanistan will shift to a support role in 2013, a year ahead of the scheduled date to complete troop withdrawal from the war-torn country.

According to the statement, Karzai also told Panetta that the US should pull out its troops from Afghan villages, where they have military camps and outposts, and relocate them in their bases across the country.

The Afghan president made the comments in the wake of a shooting spree by a US soldier that left 16 Afghan civilians dead in Kandahar province, the Taliban group’s birthplace and stronghold.

Panetta during the meet told Karzai that the US has vowed to hold fully accountable anyone found responsible for the killing of civilians in Afghanistan.

On Thursday, the Taliban outfit announced that it has suspend preliminary peace talks with the US.

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