Taliban Renew Threats as Karzai Preps for US Visit

The beheadings of 17 Afghan civilians at a party by insurgents indicate that Afghanistan is still far from pacified.

Kabul - The Afghan Taliban Saturday promised more bloodshed should US troops retain a presence in the country after 2014, as Afghan President Hamid Karzai prepares for a meeting with US President Barack Obama in Washington next week.

Afghanistan and the United States are negotiating a bilateral security agreement, which is one of the key issues to be discussed during the meeting next week between Karzai and Obama in Washington DC. Karzai will be in Washington from Tuesday to Friday.

The pact will let the US retain some military bases and a footprint after its key forces withdraw from the country.

The Taliban Islamic movement on Saturday said the "reason behind all the turmoil and anarchy in the region" is directly related to the American presence in Afghanistan.

"Therefore, if America wants to leave a small or large number of its troops for whatever length of time, then it means war and destruction will continue in the region for that same length and it shall only be America that shall suffer the most," the statement read.

"If America wants peace in Afghanistan and the region, as well as a way out for its people from this ongoing quagmire, then it should immediately remove all its troops from Afghanistan and practically put an end to this futile war."

Karzai in the past has said he is open to the idea of American soldiers in Afghanistan if the US "respects the sovereignty" of his country.

In May, Afghanistan and the US signed a strategic partnership agreement. The US has also designated Afghanistan as an important "non-NATO ally."

The Taliban, however, have been against any agreement between the Kabul administration and the US, saying the movement will continue its "jihad," if any such "personal deal" will take place.

The deal "shall hold no legal credibility," the Taliban said in Saturday's statement.

The Afghan Taliban have been waging a deadly insurgency for the past 11 years against Karzai's administration and his US and NATO allies. The US and NATO are set to withdraw all combat forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

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Hamid Karzai Afghanistan Barack Obama
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