In response to President Obama's announcement that he will begin removing U.S. troops from Afghanistan next month, Afghan President Hamid Karzai expressed gratitude to the troops today, just days after accusing the coalition forces of having ulterior motives and of negotiating with the Taliban.
"The transition of the security and the withdrawal of the foreign troops from Afghanistan means the Afghan forces must be strengthened," Karzai said, embracing Obama’s plan to remove 33,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year. Karzai also said he considers the withdrawals as “a good measure.”
But Karzai’s previous accusations did not go unnoticed at the White House.
According to White House Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough, President Obama spoke with President Karzai about his critical comments yesterday.
"President Karzai suggested that perhaps he was misquoted,” McDonough said today on MSNBC’s "Andrea Mitchell Reports." McDonough also noted that Karzai’s remarks today were “a much more positive expression of appreciation to our troops and their families” and “more in line with the kind of sacrifice our troops have made.”
The Taliban also responded to the withdrawal announcement, promising to increase violence against all foreign soldiers as long as troops remain in Afghanistan. But McDonough insists that U.S. forces will continue to keep the heat on the Taliban in order to further demolish its influence in the region.
“Even at the end of this drawdown, Andrea, you’re still talking about 68,000 of the world’s finest fighting force maintaining that pressure on the Taliban,” McDonough said. “So, we don’t think they’re going to wait this out. And the longer they wait out, the more Afghan national security forces we can train and then it’ll be the Afghan’s fight to take to them.”