Hopes for a smooth exit strategy in Afghanistan have been dashed once again for the United States.
Thursday, Afghan Pesident Hamid Karzai demanded that NATO troops pull out of rural areas in his country. The Taliban has also broken off talks with the United States, dealing a double blow to already strained relations with Afghanistan.
Karzai made his demands after meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. He also wants Afghan forces to take the lead for nationwide security in 2013, one year ahead of schedule.
Click play for more from CBN News Sr. International Correspondent Gary Lane on the future of U.S.-Afghanistan relations. He talked about the issue on Newswatch, March 15.
"Afghan security forces have the ability to keep the security in rural areas and in villages on their own," Karzai said in a statement after the meeting.
His remarks came as Afghanistan was still in shock and mourning over a recent attack by an unnamed U.S. soldier. The shooting rampage killed nine children and seven other civilians.
The concern now is that Afghan tears will turn to rage. Attacks have already increased following the March 11 shooting.
The U.S. military flew the accused soldier to Kuwait Wednesday. Afghans then protested his removal.
In another development Thursday, the Taliban broke off talks with the U.S. Both setbacks could effectively paralyze U.S. efforts to completely end the war in Afghanistan.
Part one of the exit strategy involved gradually transferring authority to Afghan forces. Part two involved pulling the Taliban into political talks with the Afghan government.Now, both seem to be stalled.
Another concerns is that if NATO troops do pull out of Afghanistan as Karzai has requested, large areas in the countryside will be unprotected.