U.S. and Afghanistan pledged to strategic partnership

President George W. Bush and Afghan President &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2002/06/11/30160.html ' target=_blank>Hamid Karzai pledged themselves to strategic partnership that includes economic development as well as security guarantees for Afghanistan.

Karzai is a key ally of the U.S. in a region that is a focal point of the war on terrorism and a test of Bush's drive to spread democracy. He is seeking greater control over military operations in Afghanistan even as his government deals with deadly anti-American protests, a resurgent narcotics trade and struggles to impose authority over tribal factions.

White House Press Secretary &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/usa/2002/11/14/39498.html ' target=_blank>Scott McClellan said earlier that he didn't expect any decision would be made today on Karzai's request for more authority in military matters. The U.S. has about 18,000 troops in Afghanistan, informs Bloomberg.

According to the New York Times, prior to his meeting with Mr. Bush, Mr. Karzai had said he would press the United States to turn over Afghan prisoners and to consult with Afghan authorities before raiding homes and villages to look for insurgents. He made no mention of either issue during the news conference.

Mr. Bush however, suggested that Afghanistan lacked the resources to detain some prisoners and said the United States' policy was to "consult" with the Afghan government regarding military operations. The United States has helped train about 25,000 Afghan soldiers. Mr. Karzai said deadly riots in Afghanistan last week were not directly related to a Newsweek magazine article, which has since been retracted, that said a military inquiry would report that a copy of the Koran had been flushed down a toilet at the American prison camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. At least 17 people were killed during the riots.

"Those demonstrations were in reality not related to the Newsweek story," the Afghan president said. "They were more against the elections in Afghanistan. They were more against the progress in Afghanistan. They were more against the strategic partnership with the United States. We know who did it. We know the guys. We know the people behind those demonstrations."

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