NATO forces in Nawzad, Afghanistan, in August (epa)
KANDAHAR, December 12, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he told local leaders from southern Afghanistan today to encourage civilians to stay away from NATO forces until the alliance comes up with better ways of avoiding civilian casualties, RFE/RL's Afghan Service reported.
Karzai made the remarks during talks in Kandahar with tribal elders and religious leaders from the volatile southern provinces of Zabul, Oruzgan, Kandahar, and Helmand -- areas where Afghan and foreign troops have seen a resurgence of Taliban violence during the past year.
Karzai's delegation included his defense and interior ministers as well as members of parliament. The top NATO and UN officials in Afghanistan also attended the talks along with ambassadors from the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, and Britain.
Karzai says the meeting also focused on Afghan-Pakistani relations, security issues, and reconstruction plans.