Taliban, US are colluding to help show foreign forces are needed after 2014

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Kabul (afviews): Afghan President Hamid Karzai has accused the Taliban and the US of working in concert to convince Afghans that violence will worsen if most foreign troops leave as planned by the end of 2014.

Addressing a gathering in Kabul on the occasion of the International Women's Day, Karzai said two suicide bombings on Saturday in Kabul and Khost province that killed 19 people show the insurgent group is conducting attacks to help show that international forces will still be needed to keep the peace after their current combat mission ends in 2014.

“The explosions in Kabul and Khost yesterday showed that they (Taliban) are at the service of America and at the service of this phrase - 2014. They are trying to frighten us into thinking that if the foreigners are not in Afghanistan, we would be facing these sorts of incidents,” he said.

Karzai went to say that the Taliban and the US have been holding talks in Gulf States. Karzai offered no proof on this issues but said, “Their (Taliban) leaders and representatives are talking with the US abroad every day. We are aware of this and they themselves tell us about this. Both foreigners tell us about this and the patriotic Taliban are informing us that this or that particular deal is going on between their senior leaders and the US. In Europe and in the Gulf countries, talks are held every day between the US, foreigners and the Taliban,” Afghan president said.

There was no immediate response from the US-led military coalition on the issue Afghan president raised, but Taliban rejected Karzai’s remarks.

His latest remarks come as his government is negotiating a pact with the US for the long-term presence of American forces in Afghanistan and just days after an agreement to transfer the US prison outside of Kabul to Afghan authority fell through. His comments also came while US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is making his first visit to Afghanistan since becoming the Pentagon chief.

Karzai said in his speech that any foreign powers that want to keep troops in Afghanistan need to do so under conditions set forward by Afghanistan.

“We will tell them where we need them, and under which conditions. They must respect our laws. They must respect the national sovereignty of our country and must respect all our customs,” Karzai said.

Karzai said he did not believe the Taliban’s claim that they launched Saturday’s attacks to show they are still a potent force fighting the United States. “The Taliban are in talks with the US everyday as well but carry out bombings in Kabul and Khost to show their strength to the US. No. Yesterday's bombings in Khost and Kabul were not aimed at showing their strength to the US but to serve the US,” Karzai said.

At the same time, the Afghan government itself has been pushing hard to get the Taliban to the negotiating table before most US-led NATO combat troops withdraw by the end of 2014.

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