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Karzai says US should reduce operations' intensity

world Updated: Nov 14, 2010 16:10 IST

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Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai said that the United States must reduce the visibility and intensity of its military operations in Afghanistan.

Karzai also said in an interview on Saturday with The Washington Postthat the US should end the increased Special Operations forces night raids that aggravate Afghans and could strengthen the Taliban insurgency.

He said that he wants American troops off the roads and out of Afghan homes and that the long-term presence of so many foreign soldiers would only make the war worse. US commander Gen. David Petraeus claims the 30,000 new troops have made substantial progress in beating back the insurgency.

"The time has come to reduce military operations," Karzai said. "The time has come to reduce the presence of, you know, boots in Afghanistan ... to reduce the intrusiveness into the daily Afghan life."

President Barack Obama has set July 2011 as a target to begin drawing down US troops but American officials expect troops to be in Afghanistan for some time after that. Karzai said that his forces are ready to take more responsibility for their own security.

Karzai said in the interview that he was speaking out not to criticise the United States but in the belief that candor could improve what he called a "grudging" relationship between the countries. Karzai has repeatedly criticised civilian casualties caused by raids involving US and NATO troops.

Insurgents wearing suicide vests on Saturday stormed a major NATO base in eastern Afghanistan, with six of them dying in a hail of gunfire before they could penetrate the defenses. Ten people died in a separate bombing in the north.

The attacks in Jalalabad in the east and Kunduz province in the north show the insurgents' fighting spirit has not been broken despite a surge of US troops and firepower.