Karzai raps NATO, United States over civilian deaths
KABUL / WASHINGTON
US President Obama signed a strategic partnership deal with Karzai (L) last week. AFP photoAfghan President Hamid Karzai summoned U.S. General John Allen, commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, to his palace to discuss civilian deaths, a longstanding thorn in ties between Karzai and his Western backers.
The strategic pact sealed by U.S. President Barack Obama last week in Afghanistan is at risk of becoming “meaningless” if Afghans do not feel safe, Karzai said on May 7, referring to a string of recent civilian casualties by NATO. “Karzai signed the strategic pact with the United States to avoid such incidents (civilian casualties) and if Afghans do not feel safe, the strategic partnership loses its meaning,” a presidential palace statement said, referring to an agreement setting out a long-term U.S. role in Afghanistan.
Obama to meet Rasmussen
The statement added that dozens of civilians had been killed in the eastern provinces of Kapisa and Logar, northwestern Badghis province and the southern Taliban stronghold of Helmand over the past three days in NATO air strikes. NATO forces in Afghanistan yesterday admitted responsibility for the deaths of a civilian family of six in an airstrike in the southern province of Helmand last week. Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to meet NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in the Oval Office today. “The two leaders will discuss final preparations for the NATO Summit the President will host in Chicago on May 20-21,” the White House said in a two-sentence statement. The United States will push to modernize NATO, deepen partnerships and hammer out details of the Afghanistan withdrawal at a summit, White House officials said earlier.