Hamid Karzai: US Is Giving Us a Drone Fleet

But division remains over Afghanistan troop withdrawal

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 15, 2013 7:14 AM CST

(Newser) – In his first public comments since his visit to Washington, Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced yesterday that the US is giving Afghanistan a fleet of unarmed aerial spy drones, the New York Times reports. A pleased Karzai said his meetings with President Obama gave him most of what he wanted; he and Obama had already announced an accelerated timeline for handing over detainees and transitioning security responsibility. The US will train Afghan troops to use the surveillance drones, Karzai said, and Afghanistan will also receive "other intelligence-gathering equipment" including helicopters and planes.

A sticking point in US-Afghan talks has been the US demand that any American forces remaining in Afghanistan be given immunity under Afghan law. Karzai yesterday conceded a bit, and said he would allow Afghan elders to make a decision, CNN reports. "This is a decision that should be made by the Afghan people in a Loya Jirga," he said, and told CNN in a separate interview that the gathering of elders will almost certainly grant immunity. But it's not all good news: Afghanistan wants the US to eventually remove all troops from Afghan villages, including Special Operations forces who currently train the local police. The US, on the other hand, assumed the withdrawal would only apply to traditional military forces and not to police trainers, the Washington Post reports. The US is still negotiating on the issue.

President Barack Obama listens as Afgan President Hamid Karzai speaks during their joint news conference in the East Room at the White House in Washington, Friday, Jan. 11, 2013.
President Barack Obama listens as Afgan President Hamid Karzai speaks during their joint news conference in the East Room at the White House in Washington, Friday, Jan. 11, 2013.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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