Thursday, March 15, 2012

Taliban scraps U.S. peace talks and Calls for Nato to Leave

(Reuters) - Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai called for NATO troops to leave Afghan villages after 16 civilians died in a shooting rampage by a U.S. soldier, underscoring Afghan fury over the massacre and clouding U.S. exit plans.

In a near-simultaneous statement, the Taliban said they were suspending nascent peace talks with the United States seen as a strong chance of ending the country's decade-long war, blaming "shaky, erratic and vague" U.S. statements.

Karzai, in a statement from his office after meeting U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, said as a result of the weekend massacre, "international security forces have to be taken out of Afghan village outposts and return to (larger) bases".

The soldier accused of carrying out the shooting was based at a small special forces compound similar to others around the country which underpin NATO's counter-insurgency strategy ahead of a 2014 deadline for most Western combat forces to pull out.

Karzai said the incident had harmed relations between Afghanistan and the United States and said "all efforts have to be done to avoid such incident in the future", warning it also had hurt the trust Afghans had in foreign forces. Read More