KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is rejecting any suggestions that the United States is in collusion with the Taliban in Afghanistan with the goal of making Afghans fearful of more violence if foreign troops leave as scheduled next year.
The suggestion came from Afghan President Hamid Karzai before his meeting with Hagel today in Kabul.
Hagel, on his first visit to Afghanistan as defense secretary, said after the meeting that he thinks Karzai understands "where we are and where we've been, and hopefully where we're going together."
A joint news conference by Hagel and Karzai that had been planned today was canceled, because of what officials described as security concerns. A Pentagon spokesman said it had nothing to do with Karzai's accusations about US and Taliban complicity.
Yesterday, a suicide bomber struck outside the Afghan Defense Ministry, killing nine Afghan civilians. Hagel heard the explosion from the safe location where he was meeting with Afghan officials, but was never in danger.
172-a-04-(Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, at news conference)-"very direct conversation"-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says he and President Hamid Karzai touched on all the big issues during their meeting. (10 Mar 2013)
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176-a-10-(U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, speaking to Afghan troops, with translator)-"a better future"-U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with Afghan troops, calling them the "future" of their country. (10 Mar 2013)
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174-a-12-(Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, at news conference)-"to negotiate anything"-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says he talked to Afghan President Hamid Karzai about his accusation that the Taliban and the U.S. are working in concert to convince Afghans that violence will worsen if most foreign troops leave. (10 Mar 2013)
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GRAPHICSBANK: Hamid Karzai, as Afghanistan President, delivers a nationally televised speech about the state of Afghan women, Kabul, graphic element on gray (10 Mar 2013)
APPHOTO CAI103: U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel listens to the press following his meeting with Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, March 10, 2013. It is Hagel's first official trip since being sworn-in as Obama's Defense Secretary. (AP Photo/Jason Reed, Pool) (10 Mar 2013)
<<APPHOTO CAI103 (03/10/13)>>