Nation's new era is beginning: Karzai
14 January, 2013
KABUL: The years after 2014 will be better for Afghanistan than the past years of conflict, President Hamid Karzai said at a US university, emphasising the country is reaching the end of its period of suffering and pain and emerging into a new era.
Speaking at Georgetown University in Washington, Karzai urged the US to continue its support for Afghanistan while reiterating that it will be Afghans fighting against the insurgency in the future.
"I can tell you that the most recent period of the suffering of the Afghan history is behind us.
A new period is beginning, has already begun, and that new period will be consolidated with 2014 coming, where your sons and daughters will no longer be burdened with protecting Afghanistan, where the Afghan sons and daughters will take the mantle and will move forward," Karzai told those gathered.
"Today, I'm glad to report to you, ladies and gentlemen, that us — the Afghans — and the United States government agreed on a format for expanding our relationship into the bilateral security agreement by which the United States will reduce its forces in Afghanistan, will stay beyond 2014 in a limited number in certain facilities in Afghanistan, and that the United States will continue to train and equip and assist Afghanistan and that Afghanistan will be responsible for its own security, protection of its own borders and all that comes with it."
Karzai said the reason for the ongoing US presence was Al Qaeda.
"One of the reasons the United States will continue a limited presence in Afghanistan after 2014, in certain facilities in Afghanistan, is because we have decided together to continue to fight against Al Qaeda. So there will be no respite in that," he said.
Thanking the Americans whose taxes have been part of the support to his country, the president marked out that the progress reached in Afghanistan over the past decade would have not been possible without the US-led assistance.
"The Afghan people, regardless of where they stand ideologically on all these issues, recognise that Afghanistan could not have made the progress that we have made in the past 10 years without the help that we received from allies, led by the United States of America. In more crucial terms, the US taxpayer's money. It did contribute massively to Afghanistan's upliftment," he added.
Aiming to advance the peace talks, the presidents also confirmed plans to open an office for the Taliban in Qatar.
"We agreed to allow an office be opened for the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, where the Taliban could engage in direct talks and meetings with the representatives of High Peace Council. This is where we will need to find help from related countries including Pakistan," Karzai said.
The Taliban has previously rejected the constitution of Afghanistan and the current government, an issue which remains a real dilemma to negotiations.
On this matter, Obama said that American representatives will not engage in talks with those Taliban who are against the Afghan constitution or who do not condemn the insurgency.