Clinton defends US Afghan war strategy after Karzai criticism

Washington, Nov 16 (ANI): US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has defended the US strategy in Afghanistan after Afghan President Hamid Karzai urged Washington to reduce the visibility and intensity of its military operations in his country and end the increased American Special Operations forces night raids that aggravate Afghans and could embolden Taliban insurgents.

"We believe that the use of intelligence-driven, precision-targeted operations against high-value insurgents and their networks is a key component of our comprehensive civilian-military operations," the BBC quoted Clinton, as saying.

"There is no question that they are having a significant impact on the insurgent leadership and the networks that they operate," she added.

Clinton also insisted that the operations were conducted in full partnership with the government of Afghanistan and pointed out Afghan forces were included in each operation.

On Friday, NATO's 28 leaders would reportedly begin a two-day summit in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon to discuss handing security responsibility to Afghan forces next year.

NATO hopes for a gradual drawdown of foreign troops from the current peak of about 150,000 soldiers from more than 40 countries. US President Barack Obama had already sent an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan last year, raising the level of American troops there to almost 100,000, the report said.

Clinton however acknowledged that Washington was sensitive to concerns expressed by President Karzai, who has been increasingly outspoken about the Western mission.

Earlier, Karzai had called on the US to reduce the visibility and intensity of its military operations in the country, saying: "The time has come to reduce the presence of, you know, boots in Afghanistan... to reduce the intrusiveness into the daily Afghan life."

Calling for a halt to night raids, he said: "I don't like it in any manner and the Afghan people don't like these raids in any manner." (ANI)

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