The July 2011 deadline to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan is unrealistic and unhelpful, Afghan Ambassador Said Tayeb Jawad told CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday.
"First, if you over-emphasize a deadline that is not realistic, you are making the enemy a lot more bold," Jawad said. "You are prolonging the war. That deadline should be realistic. The line should be based on the reality on the ground and we should give a clear message to the enemy, to the terrorists who are a threat to everyone, that the United States, NATO, Afghans are there to finish this job."
He continued, "If that's not the feeling, we lost the support of the Afghan people, and also make the neighboring countries of interest a lot more bolder to interfere in Afghanistan."
President Barack Obama and Gen. David Petraeus, who has replaced Gen. Stanley McChrystal as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, have said they would begin withdrawal in July 2011 depending on conditions on the ground.
Gen. David Petraeus formally assumed command of NATO's International Security Assistance Force during a ceremony Sunday at the command's headquarters in Kabul.
In a speech Saturday, Petraeus called for unity on all fronts of the war in Afghanistan.
"I'm reminded we must achieve unity of effort and common purpose,"Petraeus told a crowd of about 1,700 at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. "Civilian and military, Afghan and international. We are part of one team with one mission." Petraeus was tapped by President Barack Obama as the new top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan to replace Gen. Stanley McChrystal.
A motorcycle laden with explosives detonated Sunday at a market in Helmand Province, killing five people - including four children - and injuring eight others, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said Saturday.
An ISAF statement said a second explosive device discovered on a donkey in the area was successfully defused. There was no way to independently verify the information.
U.S. Gen. David Petraeus, who assumed command of the Afghanistan mission on Sunday, accused insurgents of "killing and maiming innocent Afghan civilians on a daily basis."
"No tactic is beneath the insurgents; they repeatedly kill innocent civilians, and they frequently seek to create situations that will result in injury to Afghan citizens," Petraeus said in the statement.
A 25-year-old soldier from Vermont was killed in a bomb attack in Afghanistan, the Vermont National Guard said Saturday night.
Spc. Ryan J. Grady of West Burke died early Friday morning after his military vehicle struck a roadside bomb near the Bagram Air Base, the National Guard said.
"Specialist Grady has made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of a nation that he both loved and served as a member of the Vermont Army National Guard," said Maj. Gen. Michael Dubie, Vermont Adjutant General.
Grady served as a combat engineer with Company A (Eng) Special Troops Battalion located in Bradford, Vermont.