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Visiting Afghanistan President Karzai says does not trust US ‘Americans say one thing and do another’

NEW DELHI, Dec 14, (AFP): Visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in New Delhi on Saturday he no longer “trusts” the United States, accusing the Americans of saying one thing and doing another in his troubled homeland. Karzai’s statement to journalists came a day after he insisted he would not be “intimidated” into signing a security pact allowing US troops in Afghanistan to stay on after next year. “I don’t trust them,” Karzai said in a wide-ranging discussion at a local hotel in which he singled out a letter US President Barack Obama wrote last month assuring him that US forces would “respect” the safety of Afghans in their homes.

Karzai was speaking on the second day of a three-day visit to India during which the United States hopes New Delhi can persuade him to sign the troubled troop deal. Karzai, who is due to stand down after elections next year, initially endorsed the so-called Bilateral Security Agreement, or BSA. But he later said the agreement could only be signed after the presidential election in April, warning against a NATO presence if it just meant “more bombs and killings”. His stance has outraged US officials and lawmakers, who have threatened a complete forces pullout if Karzai does not sign by the end of the year. “When Obama writes to me that he will respect homes, they should prove it... implement the letter, respect Afghan homes,” Karzai said. “Just instruct no more bombings and there will be no more bombings and of course launch the peace process publicly and officially,” he said. “I am trying to make it a winwin for all,” he said. Karzai met Friday with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and foreign minister Kapil Sibal. India has consistently pledged to do all it can to promote stability in Afghanistan, mindful of how it was one of the main enemies of the Taleban regime before its ouster in the wake of the Sept 11 attacks in 2001.

On his last visit to New Delhi in May, Karzai said he had put forward a “wishlist” of military assistance he hoped Delhi could deliver on. India’s foreign ministry has declined to detail the list’s contents, but local media reports said it included light and heavy artillery, aircraft, and small arms and ammunition. Karzai said he was “very satisfied” with the help India is offering Afghanistan but would not disclose its nature. “India is not shying away from providing assistance to Afghanistan” but “in terms of India’s support to Afghanistan in military equipment and training, the facts are much better than you hear in the press.” The Afghan president reiterated there was a need to talk with the Taleban as part of the peace process but “we mean those Taleban who are Afghans and not connected to any foreign terror organisations”. “Those are the ones who we are trying to reach for negotaitions and bring back normal life to Afghanistan... talks with those Taleban are a necessity,” he said.

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