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Wednesday, Apr 16th

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Karzai insists US troops can leave Afghanistan by year's end

KarzaiThe outgoing president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, has told the United States in his final address to parliament that US soldiers can leave the country at the end of the year.

Karzai said on Saturday that his military was ready to take over because it already protected 93 percent of the country, and were strong enough to defend Afghanistan without assistance.

Karzai has refused to sign a security agreement with the US, which would allow US forces to remain in the country from 2015 and beyond, and said he would not do so until peace is achieved.

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After 12 years of war, labor abuses rampant on US bases in Afghanistan

abuses at US bases in AfghanistanA year and a half after President Barack Obama issued an executive order outlawing human trafficking and forced labor on U.S. military bases, a five-month investigation by “Fault Lines” has found compelling evidence that these abuses remain pervasive at U.S. facilities in Afghanistan.

“Fault Lines” traveled to India, the United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan to trace the journey of a typical migrant worker seeking a job at a U.S. military base. We found Department of Defense subcontractors and their recruiters colluding to profit directly from exorbitant fees charged to job candidates, who are sometimes left with no choice but to work for six to 12 months to recoup those costs.

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NATO airstrike that kills Afghan soldiers deals fresh blow to ties

Afgan soldiers hit by drone strikeA NATO airstrike on Thursday morning killed at least five Afghan soldiers and injured at least eight others in a tragic incident of friendly fire that is likely to further inflame the battered Washington-Kabul relations.

The strike, which hit an Afghan National Army outpost in the country’s volatile Logar Province, located about 50 miles from Kabul, came from a drone, according to The New York Times. It was most likely “the result of poor coordination between the people on the ground and the operators of the drone,” the Logar provincial spokesman told the newspaper. A Logar provincial spokesman described the outpost as the “the front line against Taliban,” the Washington Post reported.

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Report: U.S. considers resuming talks with Taliban on prisoner swap

BergfahlWashington wants to resume talks with the Taliban on a prisoner swap for a U.S. soldier captured in 2009, sources told the Washington Post.  Five members of the Afghan Taliban held at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, would be exchanged for Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl, the Post reported Tuesday.

Bergdahl went missing from a base in eastern Afghanistan June 30, 2009, and is believed to be held in Pakistan by members of the Haqqani network, a Taliban ally.

The initial U.S. offer was made more than two years ago, but the Taliban rejected the deal because the prisoners would have been released one or two at a time as a test of Taliban credibility.

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Karzai says US should re-engage Taliban peace talks or leave country

KarzaiAfghan President Hamid Karzai appeared to stiffen his resolve Saturday not to sign a security pact with Washington, saying the United States should leave Afghanistan unless it could restart peace talks with the Taliban.

"In exchange for this agreement, we want peace for the people of Afghanistan. Otherwise, it's better for them to leave and our country will find its own way," Karzai told a news conference.

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The Toll Of 5 Years Of Drone Strikes: 2,400 Dead

Drone deathsThe U.S. drone program under President Barack Obama reached its fifth anniversary on Thursday having tallied up an estimated death toll of at least 2,400 people.

As the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a U.K.-based non-profit, details on its website, five years ago the CIA conducted the first drone strikes of the Obama presidency. Although there were reports of suspected "militants" killed, at least 14 civilians also died that day.

After those initial mistakes, TBIJ notes, Obama rapidly ramped up the drone program in Pakistan and increased its use in Yemen and Somalia, two countries where al Qaeda affiliates expanded their presence during Obama's presidency.

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Afghanistan cracks down on commercials that favor keeping U.S. troops

Afghanistan - US troopsThe Afghan government, increasingly at odds with Washington, is cracking down on advertisements that promote keeping U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014 and has already shut down a spot aired by the country's most widely watched broadcasters.

The commercials - some funded by a U.S. organisation - have drawn official criticism because they urge President Hamid Karzai to abandon his refusal to sign a security pact with the United States that would enable the troops to stay.

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