Karzai in talks with US on permanent Afghan bases

AFP – February 8, 2011

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Tuesday that he was in talks with the United States about the possible establishment of permanent US military bases in his war-ravaged country.

“From the statements made by US officials, US senators to the media and from what they have told us, yes, they have this desire,” he said.

“This is an issue that we’re in talks with them about.”

But Karzai insisted that Afghanistan would have the final say on whether such bases would be allowed.

In January, influential US senator Lindsey Graham reportedly suggested permanent US bases in Afghanistan. At that time, Karzai’s spokesman Waheed Omer said the issue had not been discussed with the United States.

The US embassy in Kabul referred media queries on the issue to the US-led NATO military in Afghanistan, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which was not immediately available for comment.

There are around 140,000 international troops, around two-thirds of them from the United States, fighting Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.

Afghan forces are due to take responsibility for security from 2014, allowing international troops to pull back.

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