Sunday, April 27, 2008

Leave Taliban alone, Afghan president tells West

Karzai says US and British troops are undermining his authority and stopping insurgents from laying down their arms

Go to UK Guardian original
Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, has called on British and American troops to stop arresting Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, saying that their operations undermined his government's authority and were counter-productive.

The stinging attack, made in an interview with the New York Times published yesterday, is the latest in a series of rows between Western governments with troops in Afghanistan and the elected leader of the country. Western diplomats expressed surprise at the Afghan leader's criticism and the Foreign Office played down the row yesterday.

'We fully support the Afghan government and continue to work with it, President Karzai and the international community in the interests of the Afghan people and the long-term peace and stability of Afghanistan,' said a spokesman.

Karzai is facing re-election next year and may be hoping to bolster flagging support with a populist stance. However, in recent months relations have deteriorated seriously, with Western officials openly doubting the ability of the Afghan president, who was heavily backed by the US and the UK in 2001 after the fall of the Taliban regime, to manage rampant corruption and combat drug trafficking in the war-wracked southwest Asian state.


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