November 25, 2008
Afghan President Hamid Karzai is calling for the international community to set a timeline for the withdrawal of troops from the war-torn country.
Speaking to a United Nations Security Council delegation on Tuesday, Karzai said that if no deadline is set, Afghanistan has the right to negotiate an end date for the presence of coalition forces.
“If there is no deadline, we have the right to find another solution for peace and security, which is negotiations,” Karzai was quoted as saying in a statement from his office.
He told the delegation that aerial bombings by international military forces and searches of Afghan homes must come to an end.
Karzai has repeatedly asked for Western troops to cutback on civilian deaths, which erode support for the foreign military presence.
Canada is part of a multi-national NATO-led force, a coalition that has about 50,000 troops in Afghanistan. About 2,500 Canadian soldiers are stationed in Afghanistan, primarily in the southern province of Kandahar.
The Afghan president also said not enough attention has been paid to militant bases outside Afghanistan, a likely reference to the volatile tribal areas in neighbouring Pakistan.
In the past, Afghan officials have accused Pakistan of harbouring Taliban and al-Qaeda militants. The U.S. has launched a number of missile attacks in the border region of the two countries in recent weeks.
But Karzai said the Afghan-Pakistan relationship has improved since new leaders were installed there over the last year.
Militants often operate from Pakistani tribal areas along the Afghan border in areas largely outside of the government’s reach.
The UN delegation is in Afghanistan to push for regional co-operation as it takes stock of the situation in Afghanistan.