The possibility of the United States retaining long-term bases in Afghanistan could only be addressed once peace has been achieved and must take into account the country's neighbours, the Afghan president said on Saturday.
Russia has urged the United States not to establish long-term military bases in Afghanistan, suggesting that even discussing the subject could undermine peace efforts and anger Afghanistan's neighbours.
"Some American officials have suggested the U.S. government wants permanent bases in Afghanistan in the framework of enduring and strategic ties between the two countries," Afghan President Hamid Karzai told a news conference.
"I have heard about Russian concern. We are not living in an island in which its surroundings are empty, we live in a restive region with major neighbours," he said.
Karzai suggested any decision about long-term U.S. military bases would have to be discussed by parliament or a loya jirga, or traditional gathering of elders.
"Any agreement between Afghanistan and U.S. ties on the issue of bases must first result in peace in Afghanistan," Karzai said.
"The parallel structures should be removed and there should be no excuse for the transition in 2014 not to take place," Karzai told the news conference at his heavily fortified palace.
Washington has said the U.S. role in Afghanistan will continue beyond 2014, with Defense Secretary Robert Gates saying he would favour joint facilities in Afghanistan for training and counter-terrorism operations.
ReutersGüncelleme Tarihi: 19 Şubat 2011, 15:38