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Afghan president says U.S. should start talks with Taliban or leave

Afghanistan
(Reuters) - President Hamid Karzai appeared to stiffen his resolve on Saturday not to sign a security pact with Washington, saying the United States should leave Afghanistan unless it could restart peace talks with the Taliban.

"In exchange for this agreement, we want peace for the people of Afghanistan. Otherwise, it's better for them to leave and our country will find its own way," Karzai told a news conference.

The president said pressing ahead with talks with the Taliban, in power from 1996-2001, was critical to ensure that Afghanistan was not left with a weak central government.

"Starting peace talks is a condition because we want to be confident that after the signing of the security agreement, Afghanistan will not be divided into fiefdoms," he said.

Most diplomats now agree that Karzai is unlikely to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) that would allow for some form of U.S. military presence in Afghanistan after the end of 2014, when most troops are due to leave.

Along with reviving peace talks with the Taliban, Karzai is also demanding an end to all U.S. military operations on Afghan homes and villages, including strikes by pilotless trones.

The United States has threatened to pull all of its troops out unless a deal is signed in good time, but embassies are examining alternative solutions behind the scenes that would enable the NATO-led mission to remain.

Karzai's defiant tone struck a chord with those in the West who have already decided that further discussion with the Afghan president may be pointless and waiting for his successor to be elected is the best option.

"The more people speak about it being signed after the election, the more irrelevant he becomes," said one diplomat. "Sad as it is, we might have to bank on the next guy."

But representatives from some countries say this would not leave enough time for them to prepare for a post-2014 mission. Afghans are due to vote in a presidential election on April 5, but it could take weeks for Karzai's successor to assume power if a run-off round is required.

Karzai initially agreed to a text of the pact in November and an assembly of elders called on him to sign it. But he has since refused to sign.

In his comments to reporters, the Afghan president also denounced the use of advertising - some paid for by the United States - that lobbies for signature of the BSA.

"To harm the psyche and soul of the people of Afghanistan, there is serious propaganda going on," said Karzai, referring to the advertisements broadcast for weeks by local media but now taken off the air.

"No pressure, no threat, no psychological war can force us to sign the BSA. If they want to leave, they should leave today. We will continue our living."

(Reporting by Mirwais Harooni and Jessica Donati; Editing by Ron Popeski)

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pacsengr January 26 2014 at 8:47 PM

If they need a new muslim president we could always send Obama.

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1 reply
jfidledeek pacsengr January 26 2014 at 9:30 PM

Yah! Get idea!
j

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borisiak January 26 2014 at 2:14 PM

Lets leave, and with the newly flourishing heroin trade growing by leaps and bounds they should have enough to cover for their own economy. Unlike the Brits with the Chinese(who forced opium into the Chinese population with cannon fire) Afghan heroin is finding a receptive audience in the US without much bloodshed(not counting the crossing point, Mexico) Just as ironic is the fact that territory annexed, stolen or bought is being repopulated with Mexicans and Central Americans. When the dollar devalues it will be 1920's Germany, 1930's USA all over again and probably worse if the dollar is no longer the "world" currency. Yet we keep spending and spending and even Republicans are guilty of this overspending so it's not strictly partisan the pigs forking out pork are everywhere.

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riestererthomasw January 26 2014 at 1:56 PM

Let them fend for themselves-give them no money-work on getting our folks back to work

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Mark January 26 2014 at 1:05 PM

Why doesnt he just launch his own peace process against the insurgents... and we can take ALL of our military men home... where they belong?

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mclkarim January 26 2014 at 1:43 PM

I am sorry to say but they don't appreciate anything we have done or continue to do for them. That being said, it is pointless to continue our efforts. No more financial or military aid. They can deal with their own problems from now on.

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1 reply
markruck mclkarim January 26 2014 at 1:51 PM

We should never have gone in there in the first place. So, it's no wonder they didn't appreciate it when we stuck our big noses in.

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Mary Lou January 26 2014 at 1:14 PM

We need to get out of there now......:(

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tsinka January 26 2014 at 12:29 PM

cuba, vietnam,korea, and anyone else that doesn't welcome us also

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Harryforr January 26 2014 at 1:18 PM

Now, tell me, why is it we keep GIVING

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tenhmg January 26 2014 at 12:40 PM

Great....just pull them all out...seems like hes now part of the Taliban...so let them take care of him....but just make it plain that if another attack on the US comes from those in Afganistan that we will be back and make the place a parking lot....should have done it this time!!!

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1 reply
Mark tenhmg January 26 2014 at 1:06 PM

Oh, the Taliban will take care of him alright... hopefully soon!

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harry480 January 26 2014 at 12:32 PM

After the taliban take over the country we will allow Karzai to come to America with our Billions..Enough of our boys have died!

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