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US rejects call for troops to leave Afghan villages

US rejects call for troops to leave Afghan villages
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The Taliban in Afghanistan has suspended preliminary talks with the US over ending the conflict, accusing the Americans of changing their position over the release of prisoners.

They also objected to attempts by the US to involve Hamid Karzai’s government, who they regard as illegitimate.

The Afghan president told the US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, visiting Kabul, that he wanted international forces out of Afghan villages and redeployed in larger bases.

Anti-American feeling, already high, went up a notch further after a US soldier shot dead 16 Afghan civilians last weekend.

Now there is anger after the soldier was flown to Kuwait midweek. Many Afghans say he should face justice in Afghanistan.

One shopkeeper said: “These Americans commit such cruel atrocities on Afghans when they come here, and if they leave (the country) that will have a negative impact on Afghan people and the Afghan nation. We ask Karzai’s government to bring him back here and put him on trial.”

The shooting was one of the worst of its kind since US-backed Afghan forces toppled the Taliban over 10 years ago.

The Americans have played down the call to pull out from Afghan villages, saying there is no change in plans for a gradual transition of control over security to Afghan leadership.