June 23rd, 2011
01:41 PM ET

Karzai welcomes U.S. troop withdrawal

Editor's Note: Tune in to "Fareed Zakaria GPS" this Sunday at 10 a.m. ET for an exclusive and rare interview with the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai.

(CNN) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday welcomed U.S. President Barack Obama's plans for a U.S. troops drawdown and said it's a sign that Afghanistan is ready to take control of security in the war-torn nation.

"The number of troops that he has announced to be withdrawn is a sign that Afghanistan is taking over its own security and is trying to defend its territory by its own means," Karzai said. "So we are happy about the announcement."

As the United States pulls back, Karzai painted a picture of a more stable Afghanistan, despite the fact that May was the bloodiest month for Afghan civilians since 2007. He told CNN's Fareed Zakaria in an interview set to air Sunday that Afghans were ready to take the reins of their own country.

"It is the responsibility of the Afghan people to protect their country and to provide security for the citizens of the country," Karzai said. "If you fail in fulfilling our most important responsibility with regard to our country and our people, then somebody else should take over."

Obama announced Wednesday night that 10,000 U.S. troops would leave Afghanistan this year and all 33,000 forces sent as part of a 2009 surge would return home by the summer of 2012.

Afghans ready to take control? Afghan troop withdrawal to begin in July Afghanistan: From 9/11 until today NATO responds to troop withdrawal

Karzai also defended his public criticisms of NATO, which in recent weeks have taken on a more angry tone. Karzai blasted the alliance for civilian deaths and nighttime raids. He said his comment on NATO becoming an "occupying force" was taken out of context.

"No, I don't regret having made that comment," he said. "That comment was not seen in the full sentence that I spoke. It was after the incident of civilian casualties in Afghanistan where children were killed in an aerial bombing, where I said, 'No more of such aerial bombings on our residents.'

"The question was what if they continue?" Karzai said.

"When Afghanistan asks that these operations cease and even then, if they continue, this means we are not in charge of our country," he said. "And that, of course, becomes an occupation. It was in this context that I spoke, and I stand by that."
Karzai stressed regional cooperation between his homeland and neighboring Pakistan and India in the fight to bring an end to many years of conflict. He said the United States and Afghanistan's other allies could do a lot more in expediting talks with the Taliban to put an end to the violence.

"My statements are neither hostile nor inflammatory nor designed to get anything but an understanding from our partners that the Afghan people need to feel secure, they need to see this war take a direction in which they can see the end of the tunnel," Karzai said.

He said Afghanistan, dependent on U.S. dollars for security and development, was grateful to American taxpayers, but expressed dismay that U.S. humanitarian efforts have not always taken Afghan wishes into account.

He cited a Kandahar electricity project in which he said the United States spent $250 million to buy generators. Karzai said Afghanistan would have preferred the construction of a dam, which he called a more lasting solution.

Tune in to "Fareed Zakaria GPS" this Sunday at 10 a.m. ET for an exclusive and rare interview with the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai.

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Topics: Afghanistan • President Obama

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soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. j. von hettlingen

    Of course Karzai welcomes US troop withdrawal. When the cat is away the mice will play. He is an opportunist and I doubt if he has the interests of the Afghan people at heart. Cronyism and corruption are the two reasons why Afghanistan has no future under Karzai.

    June 23, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Reply
  2. bobalu

    The war for the Afghan people will continue past 2014. The rational for the Taliban will change from fighting to remove the foreigners to fighting to re-instate the Islamic Caliphate of Afghanistan. It will be seemless. Hopefully we can leave the Afghans a fleet of drones that they can continue to benefit from. An Afghan can stand on the runway, load the missiles onto the drone, flip the on switch and stand back as a coalition military advisory flies the Afghan drone remotely to its target from the comfort of his own home.

    June 23, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Reply
    • Matt

      Good grief bobalu, are you really that demented? How about the cursed NATO forces being on the receiving end of those cursed drones? How nice it would be to see these creeps get a dose of their own medicine!!!

      June 23, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Reply
  3. leeintulsa

    Let em build their own damn dam

    June 23, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Reply

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