Monday, March 14, 2011

Karzai Calls On NATO And US To Stop Operations In Afghanistan


March 12, 2011 "DPA" -- Kabul - Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Saturday that NATO and US should stop their operations in the war-torn country.

"I ask NATO and US, with honor and humbleness and not with arrogance, to stop its operations on our soil," Karzai said in the eastern province of Kunar, according to a statement from the presidential palace.

Karzai visited Kunar on Saturday morning to personally express condolences to the families of nine children who were killed by US air attacks on March 1.

The children were between the age of seven and 13 and collecting firewood in the Manogay district when they came under bombardment.

"Afghans want peace and security and they cooperate with the world bring peace and security," Karzai said. "But we don't want this war to continue any longer. We don't want to repeat such bombardments and casualties."

Speaking at a ceremony held in Asadabad, the headquarters of Kunar, Karzai said the war on terrorism is not in Afghan villages.

"They know where the places are and they should fight there," he said about the international forces.

"We wish NATO officials would see our sons' injured legs and hands. See how much tolerance we have," the statement said, quoting Karzai.

The issue of civilian casualties has been a major point of contention between Afghan government and international forces, mainly the US forces.

United States Defense Secretary Robert Gates apologized last week in Kabul in a joint press conference with Karzai for the death of Afghan boys.

"It breaks our heart. My personal apologies to President Karzai and the Afghan people," Gates said. "Not only is their loss a tragedy for their families, it is a setback for our relationship with the Afghan people."

Karzai said in the press that he respected and accepted the apology, adding that civilian casualties have been a major issue of grief for Afghans and they want it to stop.

Earlier, Karzai had harshly criticized US forces for causing civilian casualties during their operations, rejecting an apology from US General David Petraeus as "not enough" and "no longer acceptable."

A United Nations report released earlier this week said at least 171 civilians were killed by NATO air strike in 2010.

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