Karzai accusation ridiculous: NATO
BRUSSELS - Reuters
AP PhotoThe head of NATO said March 18 it was “absolutely ridiculous” for Afghan President Hamid Karzai to accuse the United States of colluding with the Taliban and said Kabul should recognize sacrifices made by other countries on Afghanistan’s behalf.
Karzai marred a debut visit to Afghanistan by the new U.S. defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, on March 10 by accusing Washington and the Taliban of colluding to convince Afghans that foreign forces were needed beyond 2014, when NATO is set to wrap up its combat mission and most foreign troops are to withdraw.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he was concerned about the increasingly harsh rhetoric between Karzai and the United States, which contributes the largest contingent to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.
“I reject the idea that was publicly launched by President Karzai that ... there is so-called collusion between NATO, ISAF, the U.S. and the Taliban. It is an absolutely ridiculous idea,” Rasmussen told a news conference, using unusually strong language for the normally cautious NATO chief.
“We fully respect the sovereignty of Afghanistan but we would also expect acknowledgement from the Afghan side that we have ... invested a lot in blood and treasure in helping President Karzai’s country to move forward,” he said. More than 3,000 foreign troops have been killed in Afghanistan since the U.S.-led military intervention began in 2001.