OLRTXT EMRG US KW AF AE ASIA NEWS WAR NATO VIO DEF DIP SECUR POL

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 15, 2012 12:44 PM
OLRTXT EMRG US KW AF AE ASIA NEWS WAR NATO VIO DEF DIP SECUR POL

U.S. downplays Karzai call for village pullout

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - The United States does not believe that Afghan President Hamid Karzai is seeking for NATO forces to pull out of Afghan villages immediately, despite his statement on Thursday, a U.S. defense official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"We believe that this statement reflects President Karzai's strong interest in moving as quickly as possible to a fully independent and sovereign Afghanistan," said Pentagon spokesman George Little, who was also briefing reporters travelling with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in Abu Dhabi. Panetta met with Karzai earlier on Thursday in Kabul.

"We believe that we need to continue to work together because that's an American goal as well. And we believe that it needs to be done in a way that responsibly affects that outcome."

(Reporting By Phil Stewart)