Afghan Prez criticizes US withdrawal timeline
Last Updated: Thursday, August 26, 2010, 23:28
Kabul: President Hamid Karzai said that US plans to start withdrawing troops from Afghanistan next year had boosted the Taliban's spirits, while an insurgent attack killed eight Afghan police in the country's increasingly volatile north on Thursday.

Speaking to a visiting US congressional delegation, President Hamid Karzai said the July withdrawal date had provided "morale value" to the insurgency, the presidential office said.

Karzai also told the head of US Central Command, General James Mattis, that terrorism could not be defeated without rooting out terrorist sanctuaries across the border - a likely reference to Pakistan, where the Taliban and other groups are believed to recruit fighters and base their leadership.

The increasingly outspoken Afghan leader's comments echo a common complaint among President Barack Obama's critics that the deadline gives the Taliban motivation to hold out until after next July and then make a new push for power. Obama himself has stressed that any troop withdrawals will be linked to the security situation, and American military leaders have recently been saying it could take much longer to train Afghan forces.

Violence has spiked around the country as the Taliban push back against a new security push by US-led international force - bolstered by 30,000 US troops in the insurgents' southern and eastern strongholds.

More than 10 militants attacked the police checkpoint outside the northern city of Kunduz, said provincial police chief Abdul Raziq Yaqoubi, adding they suspected the attackers were jihadists from Russia's restive Chechnya region who are active in the surrounding province, also called Kunduz.


First Published: Thursday, August 26, 2010, 23:28

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