Afghan Prez: U.S. Stays Until We Take Billions More

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai joked that U.S. forces won't be able to leave his country any time soon -- or at least not until his country has received more U.S. money.

During a news conference with President Bush in Kabul on Monday, Karzai was serious in saying that Afghanistan, the United States and the world community will continue to fight against terrorism and extremism.

"And Afghanistan will not allow the international community leave it before we are fully on our feet, before we are strong enough to defend our country, before we are powerful enough to have a good economy," Karzai said.

He then added that the world community can't leave "before we have taken from President Bush and the next administration billions and billions of more dollars."

"No way that they can let you go," said Karzai, whose remarks drew laughter.

As of last summer, the United States had spent about $200 billion on the war in Afghanistan, according to congressional officials. Both Bush and President-elect Obama have made continued U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan central to their foreign policies.Read below the transcript of the news conference in which Karzai talks about the United States' future role in Afghanistan.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. If I could ask President Karzai first -- we just came from Iraq, where they've signed an agreement outlining a security arrangement, and it includes a withdrawal of American forces within three years. I wonder if you envision a similar kind of arrangement where -- would you like to see a scheduled withdrawal or a timetable of withdrawal for the foreign forces who are in Afghanistan.

KARZAI: Sir, Afghanistan is in a cooperative arrangement with the United States and the rest of the international community. The decision in Afghanistan is to continue our cooperation with the international community until we have defeated terrorism and extremism and the threat that emanates from them to us, to our neighbors, and to the rest of the -- rest of the world. And Afghanistan will not allow the international community leave it before we are fully on our feet, before we are strong enough to defend our country, before we are powerful enough to have a good economy, and before we have taken from President Bush and the next administration billions and billions of more dollars -- (laughter) -- no way that they can let you go.