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U.S. Rejects Karzai Remarks On Taliban


Afghan President Hamid Karzai claims Taliban attacks aid those who argue foreign troops are needed in Afghanistan.
The top U.S. general in Afghanistan has rejected remarks by Afghan President Hamid Karzai suggesting U.S.-led international forces are benefiting from Taliban attacks.

General Joseph Dunford said international forces had shed "too much blood over the past 12 years" to think "violence or instability" would be to their advantage.

"We have fought too hard over the past 12 years, we have shed too much blood over the past 12 years, we have done too much to help the Afghan security forces grow over the last 12 years to ever think that violence or instability would be to our advantage," Dunford said.

The White House on March 11 also rejected Karzai's remarks. White House spokesman Jay Carney said "any suggestion the United States is colluding with the Taliban is categorically false."

Speaking a day after two Taliban bomb attacks that killed 19 people, Karzai said such bombings help Washington convince Afghans that U.S. forces are needed.

"The bombing that took place yesterday and was carried out by the name of Taliban," Karzai said. "These actions in fact show that Taliban are serving the foreigners and are not against the foreigner. These bombing show that Taliban want longer presence of foreigners, not their departure from Afghanistan."

Nearly all foreign troops are scheduled to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

Karzai said any foreign powers hoping to keep troops in Afghanistan will have to abide by rules set by the Afghan government.

Karzai also said Washington and the Taliban had been holding talks in Qatar on a "daily basis."

Washington and the Taliban both denied they had resumed efforts on dialogue, which stalled a year ago.

The Taliban spokesman in Afghanistan, Zabihullah Mujahid, said no progress had been made since the negotiations were suspended.

Karzai also alleged that U.S.-led forces and Afghans working with them were abusing and arresting university students. Karzai said he was issuing a decree banning foreign troops from entering Afghan universities.

Karzai's comments on March 10 were delivered during the first visit to Kabul by the new U.S. defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, who took over in late February for Leon Panetta.

A joint news conference for Karzai and Hagel was canceled, according to U.S. officials, because of security worries. The two, however, were scheduled to meet privately on March 10.

At a news conference afterward, Hagel said he had spoken to Karzai about his remarks.

"We did discuss those comments. I told the president it was not true that the United States was unilaterally working with the Taliban and trying to negotiate anything," Hagel said. "The fact is, any prospect for peace or political settlements -- that has to be led by the Afghans."

Hagel's visit coincided with the passing of a deadline set by Karzai for U.S. special forces to leave the province of Wardak.

Karzai accused the forces of overseeing torture and killings in the area.

U.S. forces have denied being involved in any abuse in the area.

On March 9, a NATO official said U.S. special forces were still operating in Wardak.

Based on AP and Reuters reporting