Hagel Rejects suggestion of US-Taliban collusion

By: ap
By: ap

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is rejecting any suggestions that the United States is in collusion with the Taliban in Afghanistan with the goal of making Afghans fearful of more violence if foreign troops leave as scheduled next year.

The suggestion came from Afghan President Hamid Karzai before his meeting with Hagel today in Kabul.

Hagel, on his first visit to Afghanistan as defense secretary, said after the meeting that he thinks Karzai understands "where we are and where we've been, and hopefully where we're going together."

A joint news conference by Hagel and Karzai that had been planned today was canceled, because of what officials described as security concerns. A Pentagon spokesman said it had nothing to do with Karzai's accusations about US and Taliban complicity.

Yesterday, a suicide bomber struck outside the Afghan Defense Ministry, killing nine Afghan civilians. Hagel heard the explosion from the safe location where he was meeting with Afghan officials, but was never in danger.


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