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Karzai threatens to drop pact with US

Karzai threatens to drop pact with US

Kabul: Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that he will not sign the military pact with the US if it continues actions such as this week's NATO drone strike resulting in civilian casualties.

A Taliban commander and an eight-year-old boy died and two women were wounded Thursday by a drone attack in the southern province of Helmand, Afghan government spokesman Umar Zwak told the Pajhwok news agency.

"For as long as such arbitrary acts and oppression of foreign forces continue, the security agreement with the United States will not be signed," Karzai said in a statement posted on his website.

"This attack shows that American forces do not respect the lives and security of the people of Afghanistan and the loya jirga (council of elders) decision," the Afghan leader said.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force confirmed in a communique that an air strike was carried out Thursday against an insurgent in Helmand and expressed regrets for the civilian casualties.

Washington's top commander in Afghanistan, Marine Gen Joseph Dunford, telephoned Karzai Thursday to apologise for the death of the child.

Dunford, his spokesman said: "Expressed deep regrets for the incident and any civilian casualties, and promised to convene an immediate joint investigation to determine all the facts of what happened."

The drone strike came just a few days after the loya jirga approved a military pact with the US extending beyond 2014 when the ISAF withdraws, though Karzai wants to postpone the signing of the pact until after his successor is elected next year.

The rough draft of the accord anticipates the presence of some 10,000-15,000 US soldiers in the country until 2024.


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