ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – U.S. defense officials say Afghan President Hamid Karzai did not demand, in a meeting with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, that all American forces be out of Afghan villages, despite a Karzai statement Thursday calling for a quick withdrawal.
Pentagon press secretary George Little says the issue of leaving villages came up, but he says discussion reflected a desire to quickly become an independent nation.
A senior U.S. official says the U.S. sees no reason to expect a change. The official says it’s unclear whether the U.S. could withdraw troops from villages by 2013. The official spoke anonymously to discuss a private meeting.
Karzai said Thursday he wanted troops to leave rural areas and villages and stay on bases. He also said Afghanistan can take the lead in security in 2013.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)