No differences between Petraeus and Karzai: Pentagon

Last Updated: Thursday, July 15, 2010 - 13:28

Washington: The Pentagon has strongly denied reports that there are differences between General David Petraeus, US` new commander in Afghanistan and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, on the war against terror in the country.

On his job for less than a fortnight now, Gen Petraeus has been meeting Karzai on a daily basis and discussing with the latter on various aspects of the war against terror and how to win the battle against the terrorists in the country, a Pentagon spokesman told reporters.

"I think he (Petraeus) has met with President Karzai every single day of his new command, and I think even before that. So they`ve been meeting daily. And clearly one of the issues that they`ve been discussing at great length over the course of those conversations has been this issue of local community policing," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said.

"Contrary to some of the reporting I`ve seen, which has suggested at least in some of the stories that this discussion has caused some sort of tension or rift between them, that is not the case. I think these have been very fruitful and productive and valuable conversations for all involved," he said.

Noting that local policing is clearly a sensitive issue for Karzai, Afghan government and the Afghan people, given their history with militias and warlords, he said the Pentagon certainly understands that and is sensitive to it.

"But that is not what General Petraeus is proposing here. I think the Afghan leadership, thanks to this extensive engagement over the last week or so, now understands that. These would be local community policing units. They would not be militias," he asserted.

"These would be government-formed, government-paid, government-uniformed local police units who would keep any eye out for bad guys -- in their neighbourhoods, in their communities -- and who would in turn work with the Afghan police forces and the Afghan Army, to keep them out of their towns," Morrell said.

The spokesman said this is a temporary solution to a very real, near-term problem.

"This would just be a stop gap measure, or at least that`s how it`s envisioned at this point, because we clearly do not have enough police forces to provide security in enough of the populated areas," he said.

This initiative was put forth by General Petraeus as a way to deal with that problem in the near term, which is to get some locals who care for their communities, who know best who should be there and who shouldn`t.

"This is by no means, by no means, a done deal. This is a suggestion, an idea, an initiative put forth by the General that is under consideration, under discussion between him and President Karzai and others who are -- who are involved in this," Morrell said.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, July 15, 2010 - 13:28

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