Karzai meets US senators ahead of Washington visit
By Sajad - Sun Jan 06 2013, 12:14 pm
According to a statement released by presidential palace media office, “President Hamid Karzai met on Saturday a US Senate delegation led by Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee.”
The source further added, “The meeting focused on a range of issues of mutual interest including the post-2014 US force presence in Afghanistan, the bilateral security agreement, peace process and the future cooperation between Afghanistan and United States.”
“On the bilateral security agreement, President Karzai said Afghans were ready to consider the US interests provided that America, too, fully considers and respects Afghanistan’s national interests and sovereignty”, the statement issued by presidential palace said adding that, “The President stressed that the bilateral security agreement can be signed only between two independent and sovereign states.”
The statement also added, “President Karzai added that the US troops should move out of Afghan villages into their military bases.”
The visit by US Senators comes amid Afghanistan and the United States negotiations on a bilateral security agreement, which is one of the key issues to be discussed during the meeting next week between Karzai and Obama in Washington DC. Karzai will be in Washington from Tuesday to Friday.
The latest media reports suggest the US Department of Defence has prepared plans that leave either 3,000, 6,000 or 9,000 troops in the country, focused on striking at al Qaeda militants.
US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has said the slimmed-down force would focus on preventing al Qaeda, which was sheltered by the 1996-2001 Taliban government, from regaining a foothold in the war-shattered nation.
Troops would also continue training the Afghan army and police, who will be responsible for national security more than a decade after a US-led alliance ousted the Taliban regime.