KABUL, Afghanistan, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Saturday U.S. and NATO troops should withdraw from villages and transfer power to Afghan forces as soon as possible.
Karzai's speech came on the opening day of a conference of Afghan ambassadors and general consuls on foreign policy strategy for the next three years, Khaama Press reported.
He said Afghan forces will take the lead in security in the country in 2013 and international forces will cease their combat mission by the end of 2014.
Meanwhile, Afghan security officials said U.S. and U.N. Security Council sanctions against the Haqqani Network are not enough to eliminate the terror group's risks.
"The move was vital to weaken Haqqani Network and those who were supporting the network," said Interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi. "But the Haqqani Network unfortunately still poses greater risks to Afghanistan, the region and the entire world. Further steps should be taken to eliminate the network's activities."
The U.S. Department of State listed the Haqqani Network on its terror list in September, and the U.N. Security Council later did the same, Khaama Press said. Political observers said the network was seriously weakened by the sanctions.