Karzai: US leaving drones to Afghanistan

As part of a deal worked out with the White House during a recent visit, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said his country would be getting its own drone fleet from the U.S.

Karzai did not say how large a drone fleet he would be getting, but said they would be for surveillance only, according to report Monday in The New York Times. The U.S., he said, “will train Afghans to fly them, use them and maintain them.”

During the interview reported by the Times, Karzai also said he has been promised additional surveillance equipment, as well as an additional 20 helicopters and at least four C-130s. So far U.S. officials have offered no details on any agreements on aircraft numbers and type worked out between Karzai and Obama during the Afghan leaders visit to the White House.

He told the Times that he got nearly everything he asked for from Obama.

For its part the White House is waiting to see if Afghanistan will deliver on an agreement for immunity for any American troops who stay on after the U.S. entirely wraps up its combat role at the end of 2014. Karzai said that’s a decision that must be made by the country’s loya jirga, or national assembly of elders.

Obama has made it clear not a single U.S. soldier will be staying on if the Afghan government cannot deliver on an immunity deal. It was Iraq’s inability or unwillingness to grant immunity that resulted in all American troops being pulled out of that country after Obama announced the end of the combat mission in August 2010.

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