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Afghanistan wants early takeover of security: Karzai


Afghanistan wants to take over control of the nation's security in 2013 not 2014 and for US troops to pull out of villages, President Hamid Karzai said Thursday, just days after a US soldier massacred 16 villagers.

Karzai told visiting US defence chief Leon Panetta that "Afghanistan is ready to take overall security responsibility", a statement from his office said.

"Our demand is that this process should be executed sharply and the responsibility should be handed over to to Afghans."

Karzai said both sides should work together so that the process of handing security from international troops to Afghan forces would be completed in 2013 rather than 2014, the statement said.

The president also wants the United States to pull all its troops out of villages, where they have outposts, and relocate them in their bases.

International forces should "be withdrawn from villages and relocated in their bases", the statement said.

Panetta's visit had been billed as an opportunity to smooth over relations with Afghan leaders, which took a severe knock when a US soldier allegedly massacred 16 villagers on Sunday and copies of the Koran were burnt last month.

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