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Page last updated at 14:53 GMT, Friday, 24 July 2009 15:53 UK

Karzai 'to review foreign forces'

Karzai at election rally 24 July
President Karzai addressed thousands at an election rally

Afghan president Hamid Karzai has said that he will review agreements with foreign forces operating in Afghanistan if he is re-elected.

He said he would make international forces sign an agreement governing how they operate, in an effort to limit civilian casualties.

President Karzai is seeking re-election in next month's presidential poll.

The Afghan government has long been concerned about the civilian death toll as foreign troops battle insurgents.

The new commander of US and Nato-led troops in Afghanistan, Gen Stanley McChrystal, has recently echoed this concern.

Last month he said troops must make the shift from conventional warfare strategies to protecting Afghan civilians.

The move came after a US military inquiry found that a US air strike in May in which Afghan civilians died had breached guidelines.

The number of civilian casualties has been a potent issue for many Afghans and for candidates campaigning ahead of next month's presidential and provincial council elections.

Tensions high

Mr Karzai was speaking at a campaign rally in the capital, Kabul.

He said that foreign forces too often took decisions without consulting the Afghan government.

US marin helicopter 11 July
US and British forces have launched a major offensive in the south

"It should be clear who is the owner of the house and who is the guest," Mr Karzai was quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying at the rally.

Tensions between Kabul and Washington have been high in recent months over the numbers of civilian casualties.

The UN says US, Nato and Afghan forces killed 829 civilians while fighting Taliban insurgents last year.

US and British troops have recently launched a major offensive against insurgent strongholds in southern Afghanistan.

President Karzai's campaign rally comes one day after he refused to take part in a televised debate between two of the main presidential candidates.

He is facing challenges from 40 other candidates.

Correspondents say the front runners in the vote are President Karzai, former finance minister Ashraf Ghani, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah and former deputy speaker of the lower house of parliament, Mirwais Yasini.



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