In his final address to Afghanistan’s parliament Saturday, President Hamid Karzai told the United States its soldiers can leave at the end of the year because his military, which already protects 93 percent of the country, was ready to take over entirely. He reiterated his stance that he would not sign a pact with the United States that would provide for a residual force of US troops to remain after the final withdrawal, unless peace could first be established.

The Afghan president has come under heavy pressure to complete a Bilateral Security Agreement with a council of notables, that he himself convened, recommending that he sign the pact. The troops left behind would train and mentor Afghan troops, and some US Special Forces would also remain to hunt down al-Qaida.

All 10 presidential candidates in the April 5 election have said they would sign the security agreement. But Karzai himself does not appear to want his legacy to include a commitment to a longer foreign troop presence in his country.

Karzai was brought to power in the wake of the 2001 US-led invasion and subsequently won two presidential elections in 2004 and again in 2009. In recent years though he has espoused a combatative nationalism, his hour-long speech on Saturday being no exception.

“I want to say to all those foreign countries who, maybe out of habit or because they want to, interfere, that they should not interfere,” he said…. see more

source: voice of russia