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Bush Rebuffs Karzai's Request on Troops

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_afghanistan Bush Rebuffs Karzai s Request on Troops By JENNIFER LOVEN, Associated Press Writer 3 minutes ago WASHINGTON -
    Message 1 of 1 , May 23, 2005
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      Bush Rebuffs Karzai's Request on Troops

      By JENNIFER LOVEN, Associated Press Writer 3 minutes

      President Bush said Monday that U.S. troops in
      Afghanistan will remain under U.S. control despite
      Afghan President Hamid Karzai's request for more
      authority over them.

      "Of course, our troops will respond to U.S.
      commanders," Bush said, with Karzai standing at his
      side at the White House. At the same time, Bush said
      the relationship between Washington and Kabul is "to
      cooperate and consult"

      Bush also said that Afghan prisoners under U.S.
      control in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and elsewhere, would
      be slowly returned to their home countries.

      "We will do this over time," he said. "We have to make
      sure the facilities are there."

      Bush had high praise for Karzai as a valued
      anti-terror partner and credited the Afghan leader
      with "showing countries in the neighborhood what's

      But Karzai came to their meeting with a long list of
      grievances. Among them: more control over U.S.
      military operations, custody of Afghan prisoners held
      by the United States and more assistance in fighting
      opium trade.

      As for the opium trade, Bush said, "I made it very
      clear to the president that we have got to work
      together to eradicate the poppy crop."

      Karzai said that he hoped Afghanistan would be free of
      poppy crops within five to six years and that Afghan
      farmers could find alternative crops like honey dew
      melons and pomegranates.

      There are about 20,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan,
      costing about $1 billion a month. That is in addition
      to approximately 8,200 troops from
      NATO countries in Kabul and elsewhere.

      Karzai commented on recent reports of abuse of Afghan
      prisoners by their American captors. "We are of course
      sad about that," he said, speaking in fluent English.
      But, he added, "It does not reflect on the American

      Similarly, a report � later retracted � in Newsweek
      magazine earlier this month that alleged mistreatment
      of the Quran by American prison guards does not
      reflect American values, Karzai said.

      While claiming the original report was not responsible
      journalism, Karzai said, "Newsweek's story is not
      America's story."

      Saying that he himself had been to a mosque in
      Washington, Karzai noted that "tens of thousands of
      Muslims are going on a daily basis to mosques in
      America," without incident.

      The two leaders addressed reporters in the East Room
      of the White House.

      Bush and Karzai pledged to work more closely together
      amid continued instability and protests in

      "It's important for the Afghan people to understand we
      have a strategic vision for Afghanistan," Bush said.

      He said the United States and Afghanistan had signed a
      "strategic partnership" that establishes "regular
      high-level exchanges on political security and
      economic interests � economic issues of mutual
      interest. "

      "We will consult with Afghanistan if it perceives its
      territorial integrity, independence or security is at
      risk," Bush said.
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