Civilian Deaths and Counternarcotics to Top Agenda at Bush-Karzai Meeting

Civilian Deaths and Counternarcotics to Top Agenda at Bush-Karzai Meeting

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. President George W. Bush are scheduled to meet this weekend at Camp David to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. Two topics likely will dominate their conversation: the death of Afghan civilians from NATO military action and Afghanistan's narcotics problem.

The civilian casualty issue was an important agenda item at the NATO Defense Ministers' meeting in June 2007. At the time, NATO leaders largely argued that civilian casualties were an inevitable characteristic of war. A joint press conference with Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak following the Ministerial meeting, de Hoop Scheffer rejected any moral equivalency between NATO and the Taliban by underscoring that "NATO-ISAF does not indiscriminately kill people."

According to a subsequent NATO press release, the Ministers did examine several methods to reduce NATO-induced civilian casualties. These included the "strict implementation of rules of engagement, better coordination with US-led forces, timely investigations of incidents, as well as post-humanitarian relief funds for families and communities that have been affected by NATO actions."

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