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In Kabul, Opinions On Drawdown As Numerous As People

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Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Afghan President Hamid Karzai wrapped up a trip to Washington last week with a news conference with President Obama. The leaders announced an agreement to scale back the role of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Starting this spring, Afghan forces will take the lead in combat operations. This morning, we bring you a few different views of the war and the drawdown in Afghanistan, from the Afghan street to the perspective of two American officials who each oversaw a chapter of this war - an ambassador and a general. We begin though with NPR's Sean Carberry in Kabul.

SEAN CARBERRY, BYLINE: As is usually the case in Kabul, there as many opinions as there are people you talk to. Even though most people in the city seem more focused on shoveling out from the latest snow storm, some are watching the news.

SAMIULLAH: (foreign language spoken)

CARBERRY: Samiullah is a shopkeeper. What he heard from the joint press conference has him feeling optimistic about the future. He feels that both presidents are working to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan and he hopes their efforts will be successful.

(SOUNDBITE OF TRAFFIC)

CARBERRY: Habib Hamidi is also a shopkeeper and a local journalist. He says that if the two countries take steps to follow through with their promises, it will be good for the people of Afghanistan. It's a circular logic we heard from a number of people on the street. They basically said that if it brings positive results for Afghanistan, then they support what Presidents Obama and Karzai agreed to.

HABIB HAMIDI: (foreign language spoken)

CARBERRY: Discussion on local TV stations have been more nuanced. Afghan pundits and callers alike express concern that the U.S. won't provide the support Afghan forces need to confront the Taliban or deter hostile neighbors.

SHUKRIA BARAKZAI: It was very disappointing for me.

CARBERRY: Shukria Barakzai is a parliamentarian on the defense committee.

BARAKZAI: I had relative hope for that conference, which is that meeting will assure a more civil Afghanistan, rather than early withdrawal and handover.

CARBERRY: The defense committee held a meeting on Saturday to draft a statement criticizing the accelerated transition. Barzai says Afghanistan needs continued security assistance and will need more troops after 2014. She also wanted to hear more committee to women's rights, democracy and development in Afghanistan.

DAVOOD MORADIAN: It was a nil-nil.

CARBERRY: Davood Moradian is a political analyst in Kabul.

MORADIAN: It was not a breakthrough visit for our joint mission. And also it was not a disaster.

CARBERRY: Like Barzai, Moradian expressed disappointment over the visit but he's not concerned with how many troops remain in Afghanistan or how much money is pledged.

MORADIAN: So, what is important is psychological engagement and a political commitment with Afghanistan. The numbers are second reasons.

CARBERRY: Moradian says he wasn't convinced by President Obama's remarks that the U.S. will have Afghanistan's back after 2014. Sean Carberry, NPR News, Kabul. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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