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Thursday, April 14, 2005

Japan Today - News - Karzai wants long-term security partnership with U.S. - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - Karzai wants long-term security partnership with U.S. - Japan's Leading International News Network: "

japantoday > asia
Karzai wants long-term security partnership with U.S.

Thursday, April 14, 2005 at 08:03 JST
KABUL, Afghanistan — Catching U.S. officials slightly off guard, Afghan President Hamid Karzai is seeking a long-term security partnership that could keep U.S. troops there indefinitely and make permanent the military relationship that began when American forces invaded his country in 2001.

Karzai made the statement Wednesday at a news conference with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who was notably reluctant to discuss the Bush administration's level of interest in giving Afghanistan security guarantees.

Pressed several times on this point, Rumsfeld said it was a matter for President George Bush to decide. He noted that the United States had pledged to remain a friend to Afghanistan and to help rebuild the country.

But when it came to the question of a permanent military presence here, 'We think more in terms of what we're doing rather than the question of military bases and that type of thing,' he said.

In Washington, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said 'discussions are ongoing' with Karzai on future security arrangements. 'I don't want to speculate about anything beyond that,' McClellan said.

It is not clear whether Rumsfeld would favor a long-term military presence in Afghanistan. Some believe he would prefer a more flexible arrangement for U.S. aircraft overflight rights and possibly access to an Afghan air base for occasional training, refueling and other activities.

The Pentagon has already made such arrangements with other Central Asian nations. Rumsfeld generally favors that approach because it is less rigid and less expensive.

At the news conference with Rumsfeld, Karzai appeared eager to talk about his hopes for a permanent relationship with the United"

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